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A Better Partnership

Sara A. Nicholson

Senior Counsel | Email

  • Kalamazoo

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Sara Nicholson is an estate and tax-planning attorney who specializes in planning with retirement assets for individuals and families. She drafts wills, powers of attorney and provides probate avoidance advice for a variety of clients. While crafting estate plans, she helps clients maximize the income tax benefits of retirement assets by advising clients on beneficiary designations, specialized trusts designed to continue income tax deferral, and distributions from these retirement assets. Sara gently guides clients through the process of planning for incapacity during life and post-death estate settlement by helping to secure a safe and prosperous future for loved ones – a decision that can often be difficult. In addition, Sara counsels on various aspects of the settlement of a loved one’s estate after a death. Breaking down the details of estate planning in an understandable way, while providing the best structure to yield the greatest benefit and meet the client’s wishes, is a specialty of Sara’s. Her attention to detail and responsiveness ensures a smooth planning process in protecting clients’ wishes and assets now and into the future.


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  • New York University School of Law LL.M. (in Taxation) 2012
  • University of Michigan J.D. 2007 cum laude
  • L'Université de Paris II 2006
  • Kalamazoo College B.A. 2002 summa cum laude
  • L'Ecole Supérieure de Commerce 2000


  • 2007, Michigan

Bar Associations

  • American Bar Association
  • State Bar of Michigan
  • Kalamazoo County Bar Association


  • French


  • Provides counsel for tax planning, probate avoidance and asset management for all estate sizes
  • Prepares complex estate plans to maximize clients’ succession and tax planning objectives
  • Counsels clients on options for and implications of various rollover and distribution transactions with retirement assets
  • Guides clients on the income tax implications of retirement beneficiary designations and choices for maximizing income tax deferral
  • Advises clients on agreements governing the use and maintenance of family cottages, as well as the eventual succession of ownership
  • Represents fiduciaries and families in a full range of services for post-death estate settlement and on-going trust administration, including tax planning and preparation of the requisite tax returns, probate filings, accounts, and trust documentation

Honors & Awards

  • 2020 A Lawyer Helps Pro Bono Honor Roll, State Bar of Michigan
  • ICLE Probate and Estate Planning Certificate
  • University of Michigan Law School: Journal of Gender and Law, Selection Committee and Articles Editor; Honors in legal research and writing course
  • Kalamazoo College: Dean's List; Phi Beta Kappa


  • "Navigating the Insecurities of SECURE: Significant New Limitations on the 'Stretch' IRA," Michigan Probate & Estate Planning, Spring 2020
  • "Tax Law Series: Plan for the Future Federal Estate Tax," ICLE Webinar, February 2019
  • “Planning with Retirement Benefits,” Chapter 22, Michigan Estate Planning Handbook, an ICLE publication, 2019, with Nancy Welber, 2019
  • "State law governs inheritance if no will exists," WWMT.COM, September 4, 2018
  • "Maximizing Tax Benefits of Retirement Assets," Institute of Continuing Legal Education, July 2018
  • “Fiduciary Income Tax Planning: Including Capital Gains in Distributable Net Income (DNI),” Michigan Tax Lawyer, Volume XL, Issue 2, with Raj Malviya and Richard Puhek, Summer 2014
  • "Revisiting Powers of Appointment for Sophisticated Planning," Institute of Continued Legal Education, February 13, 2014


Community Affiliations

  • Leadership Kalamazoo
  • YWCA of Kalamazoo
    Board of Directors; Member, Investment and Endowment, Planned Giving and Bylaws Committees
  • First Congregational Church of Kalamazoo
  • Kalamazoo College
    Volunteer, Center for Career and Professional Development

Speaking Engagements

  • "Legacy & Longevity: Instruments for Preserving Wealth and Preparing for Liquidation Events," WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine Innovation Center Lunch-and-Learn Series, Kalamazoo, Michigan, September 12, 2019
  • Writes and presents on many estate planning and tax topics for professional groups, such as the Institute for Continuing Legal Education (ICLE) and comunity groups through southwest Michigan
  • "Maximizing the Tax Benefits of IRAs," MICPA 2019 Management Information & Business Show, Novi, Michigan, June 27, 2019
  • "Planning With Retirement Plans," presentation for the IMA Kalamazoo Chapter, October 17, 2017

NOTICE. Although we would like to hear from you, we cannot represent you until we know that doing so will not create a conflict of interest. Also, we cannot treat unsolicited information as confidential. Accordingly, please do not send us any information about any matter that may involve you until you receive a written statement from us that we represent you.

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