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Mark K. Harder

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  • Holland

    t. +1.616.396.3225

    f. +1.616.494.3525

  • +1.866.533.3018 - ext. 3225

Biography

Mark Harder, chair of the firm's Private Client and Family Office Group, has dedicated his practice to counseling and representing high net worth individuals, families, family businesses and their owners, and closely held businesses. He provides his clients with estate planning and estate settlement services, advises on family business succession planning matters, represents family and closely held businesses in their day to day business matters, and serves as an adviser and counselor on legal matters to businesses, individuals, and their families.

Mark chaired the Probate and Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan and also the State Bar of Michigan committee that spent more than five years writing the Michigan Trust Code, which governs how trusts are established and administered in the state. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.

Industries

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Education

  • University of Iowa J.D. 1986 with highest distinction
  • University of Iowa B.B.A. 1983 with high distinction

Admitted

  • 1986, Wisconsin
  • 1991, Michigan

Bar Associations

  • Fellow of the American Bar Foundation
  • American Bar Association
    Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section; Business Law Section; Taxation Section; Law Practice Management Section
  • American Bar Foundation
  • Michigan State Bar Foundation
  • State Bar of Wisconsin
  • State Bar of Michigan
    • Probate & Estate Planning Section
      Ex Officio Member of the Council (2013-Present); Chair (2012-13), Chair-Elect (2011-12), Vice Chair (2010-11), Secretary (2009-10), Treasurer (2008-09); Council Member (2002-09); Michigan Trust Code Committee Chair and Reporter (2003-10); Chair, Uniform Principal and Income Act Amendments Task Force (2009-12); Chair, Amicus Curiae Committee (2002-09); Member, Decanting Committee (2010-12); Member, Long Range Planning Task Force (2011-12); Member, Nominating Committee (2013-Present)
    • Business Law Section
    • Tax Section

Experience

Family Business and Succession Planning

Mr. Harder represents family owned businesses and the families who own them, providing advice on the successful transition of ownership and management of these business to future generations. These businesses range in size from $5 million to more than $200 million in annual revenue.
  • Succession planning for a multinational family owned business currently owned by the second, third, and fourth generations of a family. Succession planning tools and techniques employed include grantor retained annuity trusts, family gift trusts, family limited liability partnerships and companies, an irrevocable life insurance trust to provide liquidity, buy and sell agreements, a family constitution, compensation planning for nonfamily executives, and a family office
  • Succession planning for founding generation of a midsized manufacturing company. Succession planning tools and techniques used include multiple classes of stock, grantor retained annuity trusts, family limited liability company, and irrevocable life insurance trusts
  • Advise the second generation sibling owners on the transition of a services company to a third generation cousin consortium using installment sales, gifts, and a deferred compensation plan for the senior generation
  • Advise the founder of a midsized manufacturer of capital equipment on the transition of ownership to the next generation. Planning techniques employed include gifts, sale of stock, recapitalization, and a deferred compensation agreement


Estate Planning and Settlement

Mr. Harder represents high net worth individuals using complex and sophisticated estate planning techniques, including irrevocable life insurance trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, grantor or "intentionally defective" trusts, family limited partnerships and limited liability companies, preferred freeze partnerships, family offices, and charitable remainder trusts.
  • Developed and implemented a strategic wealth succession and estate plan for high net worth couple. The plan incorporates a charitable remainder trust, private foundation, grantor retained annuity trusts, "intentionally defective" grantor gift trusts, a family bank, and a family limited liability company
  • Represent third generation inactive members of a family owned multinational manufacturing company using grantor retained annuity trusts, "intentionally defective" grantor trusts, spousal lifetime access trusts ("SLATs"), gift trusts, and liquidity planning to preserve family wealth and legacy assets and to transfer wealth to fourth generation descendants
  • Represent a fifth generation inactive owner of a family owned business, using revocable trusts, grantor trusts, a lifetime QTIP trust, and a preferred freeze partnership, all designed as part of an integrated plan to minimize the loss of value to transfer taxes and to preserve legacy assets for the 6th generation
  • Represent numerous other high net worth families and employing irrevocable life insurance trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, "intentionally defective" grantor trusts, "Crummey" withdrawal rights trusts, Age 21 trusts, lifetime QTIP trusts, and other gift trusts, charitable remainder trusts, private foundations, and family limited partnerships and family limited liability companies


Representation of Family and Closely Held Businesses

Mr. Harder also represents numerous family and closely held businesses engaged in a variety of diverse industries and businesses, including:
  • Professional services firm – handling acquisitions, shareholder buy and sell agreements, shareholder transactions, and contracting
  • Automotive suppliers – providing counsel on contracting, acquisitions, and international matters
  • Software company – provides general legal counsel to software company


Other

In the course of his representation of families and their businesses, Mr. Harder is also called upon from time to time to serve the family and the business in other areas. For example, he:
  • Serves on the advisory board of a midsized manufacturing company with operations in multiple states and overseas 
  • Serves as trustee of nearly 20 trusts with assets ranging from $125,000 to $3 million

Honors & Awards

  • Ranked in Private Wealth Law – Michigan, Chambers High Net Worth Guide, 2016-17
  • Named as one of the Top 100 Michigan Super Lawyers, 2017
  • Named 2017 and 2010 Lawyer of the Year for Trusts and Estates in the Grand Rapids area by Best Lawyers in America
  • Fellow of the American College of Trusts and Estates Counsel, 2006-Present
  • Best Lawyers in America, Trusts and Estates, 2005-Present
  • Named to Michigan Super Lawyers, 2006-Present
  • Selected by Michigan Super Lawyers to the Top 50 Consumer lists, 2013-16
  • Leading Lawyers Michigan, 2014-Present
  • Charter Member, Leading Lawyers Advisor Board, 2013-Present
  • Named a “2010 Thought Leader in the Law” by Business Review West Michigan
  • Co-Author of Estate and Protected Individuals Code With Reporters' Commentary (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017), Institute of Continuing Legal Education

News

Publications

  • Co-Author, with John H. Martin, Estates and Protected Individuals Code (2010, 2011, 2012,  Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE), 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
  • Contributing Author, Chapter 15:  Planning for a Surviving Spouse, Michigan Estate Planning Handbook, ICLE, 2016, 2017
  • Author, ICLE Commentary to the Michigan Uniform Principal and Income Act, Michigan Probate Sourcebook, 2015, 2016, 2017
  • “New Insurable Interest Statute Provides Certainty to Trustees of Insurance Trusts,” Michigan Banker, April 2014
  • "Trust Code Gains More Certainty," Grand Rapids Business Journal, 2/28/2014
  • "Introducing the Michigan Trust Code," Michigan Bar Journal, May 2010
  • "A Closer Look at the Michigan Trust Code:  What’s New – What’s In – What’s Next?," Michigan Probate & Estate Planning Journal, Winter 2009
  • "The Michigan Trust Code:  Its Organization and Structure," Michigan Probate & Estate Planning Journal, Spring 2009
  • "The Michigan Trust Code:  Some Things Old and Some Things New," Michigan Probate & Estate Planning Journal, Winter 2008
  • "A Report from the Probate and Estate Planning Section’s Uniform Trust Code Committee," Michigan Probate & Estate Planning Journal, Spring 2005

Leadership

Professional Affiliations

  • American College of Trust and Estate Counsel
    Fellow (2006-Present); State Laws Committee (2007-14)
  • Institute of Continuing Legal Education
    Member, Advisory Board (2007-Present)
  • Family Firm Institute
  • Attorneys for Family Held Enterprises
    Member (1995-Present); Treasurer (2010-11), Past Member, Board of Directors (2005-10); 2007 and 2008 Annual Conference Planning Chair

Community Affiliations

  • Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area
    Board Chair (2017); Board of Trustees (2014-Present); Development Committee (2013-Present)
  • Hospice of Holland Center
    Member, Professional Advisory Committee (1998-06)
  • Holland Area Chamber of Commerce
    Past Chairman, Leadership Holland Selection Committee (1996-98); Leadership Holland Executive Committee (1998)
  • Center for Women in Transition
    Board Member (1996-00); Treasurer, Executive Committee (1997-01); Finance Committee (1998-03)
  • Children's Talent Center
    Regional Advisory Board (1995-98)

 

Speaking Engagements

  • Presenter, “Selecting the Right Trustee – Know Your Options,” 2017 Family Office Exchange Trustees and Beneficiaries Workshop, June 20-21, 2017, Atlanta, Georgia 
  • Presenter, “Drafting Client Letters,” 26th Annual Drafting Estate Planning Documents, ICLE, February 2017
  • Presenter, “Estate Settlement Readiness,” 2016 Family Office Exchange Financial Executives Form, July 19-20, 2016, Chicago, Illinois
  • Presenter, “Selecting the Right Trustee – Know Your Options,” 2016 Family Office Exchange Trustees and Beneficiaries Workshop, June 22-23, 2016, New York, New York
  • Presenter, "Selecting the Right Trustee – Know Your Options," 2015 Family Office Exchange Trustees and Beneficiaries Workshop, November 17, 2015, New York, New York
  • Co-Presenter, "Tax and Estate Update," Family Office Exchange Financial Executives Forum, July 21-22, 2015, Chicago, Illinois
  • Co-Presenter, "Achieve Income Tax Advantages and Protect Your Client's Desires," 55th Annual Probate & Estate Planning Institute (ICLE), June 20, 2015, Plymouth, Michigan
  • Presenter, Drafting for Portability, 24th Annual Drafting Estate Planning Documents, ICLE, January/February 2015
  • Presenter, Case Studies in Portability, 54th Annual Probate and Estate Planning Institute, ICLE, May/June 2014
  • Presenter, “Drafting for Uncertain Times: Dealing with the New Certainty in the Tax Laws (As Well As Life’s Unknowns),” 22nd Annual Drafting Estate Planning Documents seminar, February 14, 2013, Plymouth, Michigan
  • Presenter, “Drafting for Uncertain Times: Dealing with the New Certainty in the Tax Laws (As Well As Life’s Unknowns),” Institute for Continuing Legal Education, January 24, 2013, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Presenter, "Ownership Transition & Estate Planning in 2012: Key Considerations," West Michigan WPO Forum, September 2012
  • Presenter, "Uniform Principal and Income Act: Best Practices for Process and Substance," Institute for Continuing Legal Education and the Probate and Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan, June 15, 2012
  • Presenter, "One Year Later: Michigan Trust Code Lessons Learned (or Not)," 51st Annual Probate and Estate Planning Institute, ICLE, May/June 2011
  • Presenter, "MTC Lessons Learned and One-Year Update," The Michigan Trust Code’s First Year:  A Look Back & Forward, ICLE, April 2011
  • Presenter, "The Michigan Trust Code:  Lessons From the First Nine Months," Calhoun County Estate Planning Council, January 2011
  • Presenter, "The New Michigan Trust Code: What Lawyers, Accountants, and the Financial Community Need to Know Now!," Berrien County Bar Association and Southwest Michigan Estate Planning Council, January 2011
  • Presenter, "Estate Planning in 2011 and Beyond," YPO Forum, January 2011
  • Presenter, "The Michigan Trust Code: Lessons From the First Six Months," Midwest Trust and Wealth Management Conference, October 2010
  • Presenter, "The New Michigan Trust Code:  What Lawyers, Accountants, and the Financial Community Need to Know Now!," Jewish Community Endowment Fund Professional Advisors Committee, May 2010
  • Presenter, "It’s Official: The New Michigan Trust Code and Its Key Provisions," 50th Annual Probate and Estate Planning Institute, ICLE May/June 2010
  • Presenter, "Introducing the Michigan Trust Code," The Michigan Trust Code:  A New Era Seminar, Michigan Bankers Association, February 2010
  • Presenter, "An Introduction to the New Michigan Trust Code," The New Michigan Trust Code, ICLE January/February 2010
  • Co-Presenter, "Ongoing Administration of Trusts," The New Michigan Trust Code, ICLE January/February 2010
  • Co-Presenter and Moderator, "Michigan Trust Code: Conversations with the Commentator," Eight installment video series, ICLE 2009-2010
  • Presenter, "Introducing the Michigan Trust Code: A Primer for Lawyers and Judges," Livingston County Bar Association, November 2009
  • Presenter, "The Michigan Trust Code: An Introduction for Attorneys, Accountants, Financial Planners and Trust Officers," Calhoun County Estate Planning Council, November 2009
  • Presenter, "Legislative Developments Affecting Succession of the Family Business," Family Business Alliance Annual Forum (October 2009)
  • Presenter, "What Every Trust Officer Needs to Know About the Michigan Trust Code," Midwest Trust and Wealth Management Conference, October 2009
  • Presenter, "The Michigan Trust Code: An Introduction for Attorneys, Accountants, Financial Planners and Trust Officers," West Michigan Estate Planning Council, October 2009
  • Presenter, "The Michigan Trust Code: An Introduction for Attorneys, Accountants, Financial Planners and Trust Officers," Lakeshore Estate Planning Council, October 2009
  • Presenter, "The Michigan Trust Code: Some Things Old, Some Things New, Some Things Borrowed, Some Things Blue To Do," 49th Annual Probate & Estate Planning Institute, ICLE May/June 2009
  • Presenter, "Family Constitutions: A Framework for Family and Business Success," Family Business Alliance, February 2008
  • Presenter, "Governance for the Family Business: Best Practices that Recognize the Uniqueness of the Family Business," Grand Rapids Bar Association, November 2007
  • Presenter, "Succession Planning for the Large and Small Family Business: An Overview with Illustrated Case Studies," Northern Michigan Estate Planning Council, November 2007
  • Presenter, "The Succession Planning Process," Family Business Alliance, June 2007
  • Presenter, "Drafting in Anticipation of the UTC," 47th Annual Probate and Estate Planning Institute, ICLE May/June 2007
  • Presenter, "The Michigan Trust Code: An Overview," Jackson Area Estate Planning Council, January 2007
  • Presenter, "The Michigan Trust Code: September 2006 Status Report and Overview," Annual Meeting of the Probate & Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan, September 2006
  • Presenter, "The Michigan Trust Code: A Status Report and Overview," Annual Meeting of the Probate & Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan, September 2005
  • Presenter, "Introduction to the Uniform Trust Code – A Preview of Things to Come," 45th Annual Probate and Estate Planning Institute, ICLE May/June 2005
  • Co-Presenter, "What’s It Worth? – Valuing the Family Held Business," Family Business Quarterly Forum, February 2005
  • Presenter, "Selecting and Working with Valuation Firms," Attorneys for Family Held Enterprises 2004 Annual Conference, May 2004
  • Presenter, "Selecting and Working with Valuation Firms," Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Family Owned Business Service Providers Group, April 2004
  • Presenter, "Tax Sensitive Trustee Powers," “Planning Techniques for the Taxable Estate," ICLE December 2003

Testimonials

I work with a number of attorneys from across the country on trust matters, and Mark Harder is the one that I enjoy working with the most. Mark is very creative and it is always a pleasure to put our heads together to come up with the best solution for our shared clients who often have complex trust and estate issues. Mark explores and understands the goals from the client’s viewpoint, and he has a way of explaining the most complicated matters in an understandable fashion. The lines of communication are always open with Mark, and that means a lot in our business. When a client asks us for a referral, Mark is one of the first people that I think of. He steps up and delivers for every occasion. - Trust officer with a wealth management firm

***

“I have worked with Mark for over 20 years and he has been extremely helpful with estate and succession planning for my family and our family-owned business. We have a pretty substantial family enterprise and Mark has helped us transfer most of the company to our three children as I approach retirement. This was extremely valuable in minimizing our estate taxes – he saved us a significant amount of money. Mark has also done a tremendous amount of work, over many years, to prepare our company for success in future generations. He is very good at creating solutions for the complex problems that family-owned businesses encounter. For people who need these kinds of services, they couldn’t do better than hiring Mark.” - Founder and CEO of a global metal parts manufacturer
 
***

"Mark is an exceptional attorney, with respect to his insight and perception of his client's true needs. He is able to listen effectively, assess the situation, and make reasoned judgments that have greatly benefitted our firm over the last 17 years." - Founder and CEO of a global engineering and consulting firm

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