Jeffrey B. Power - Warner Norcross & Judd LLP

Jeffrey B. Power

Listed in Best Lawyers since 1995
Phone: 616-752-2156

 Jeff Power provides general representation of large and small bank trust departments and handles contested probate proceedings and litigation. He is the Firm's specialist in charitable and planned giving and in the formation and operation of tax-exempt organizations. Jeff's estate planning practice emphasizes tax and financial planning for families requiring sophisticated wealth management. 

Representative Experience
  • Tax-Exempt Organizations/Charitable & Planned Giving.  Representation of tax-exempt organizations, including private and public foundations, charitable, cultural, educational and religious institutions and trade associations. Practical advice to donors and fundraising organizations on alternative structures and vehicles for both simple and complex charitable and planned giving. Examples of services include:

    • Advice to taxpayers and to exempt organizations with respect to direct charitable gifts, including bargain sales, grants of conservation easements, issuance of gift annuities and handling of unusual gifts such as closely held stock, partnership and LLC interests, commercial real estate, inventory and works of art
    • Design and implementation of planned giving strategies, including use of charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts and gifts of remainder interests in a personal residence or farm
    • Advice to donors on alternative structures and vehicles to retain asset management or grant making influence or control, including the use of private foundations, donor-advised funds and supporting organizations
    • Negotiation and preparation of agreements creating and governing restricted charitable gifts and funds
    • Choice of entity advice when forming charitable organizations, including consideration of mechanisms to avoid or limit later frustration of donor intent
    • Organizations of private foundations, supporting organizations and public charities (more than 200 to date), including preparation and processing of applications for IRS recognition of tax-exempt status
    • Board and staff education with respect to ethical, legal and governance principles and best practices
    • Collaboration with of exempt organization boards and staff to develop effective fund raising and grant making strategies and procedures
    • Formulation of rational investment policies and standards for selection and evaluation of investment managers; review of management contracts and investment proposals
    • Guidance on permissible exempt organization lobbying and political activity
    • Development of policies and procedures to avoid conflicts of interest and excess benefits transactions
    • Assistance to community foundations in the assembly and review of their applications made under the Council on Foundations' community foundation certification program
    • Not-for-profit organization restructuring, including amendments to articles of incorporation and bylaws, mergers, liquidations and conversion from trust to corporate form
    • Assistance to private foundations in making and properly documenting grants with respect to which expenditure responsibility is required
    • Advice to private foundations concerning program-related investments
    • Analysis of unrelated business income issues and structuring of transactions and operations to avoid or minimize UBIT
    • Formulation of scholarship grant programs, including those undertaken by company-sponsored private foundations
    • Representation of taxpayers seeking IRS rulings. See, e.g., Ltr. Rul. 9017071, which was the first IRS ruling allowing acceleration of deferred gift annuity payments
    • Annual preparation of numerous federal and state tax returns (Forms 990, 990PF and 990T) and required reports
  • Estate Planning & Administration.  Estate and tax planning for persons with inherited wealth and for business owners and executives.  Estate and trust administration practice emphasizes the administration and tax planning of decedent's estates and the handling of IRS audits and valuation controversies, including proceedings in Tax Court. Client services include:

    • Design and implementation of wealth preservation and management strategies, including creation of wills, sundry trusts, corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies to achieve specific tax and family objectives
    • Assessment and handling of issues arising out of ownership of closely held businesses, including assistance with succession planning, design of control devices, negotiation and preparation of buy/sell agreements and advice on management and governance issues
    • Planning for special situations, including transitioning of family cottage/vacation properties, creating trusts for individuals with special needs and protecting property from division and loss in the event of divorce
    • Development of tax effective strategies to reduce exposure to specific risk associated with concentrated holdings of publicly traded stocks
    • Review of life insurance and annuity needs and products; assistance with life insurance-based estate and tax planning strategies
    • Negotiation and preparation of antenuptial agreements
    • Estate and distribution planning for retirement plan benefits including qualified and nonqualifed retirement plans and individual retirement accounts
    • Postmortem estate and trust planning and administration, including use of qualified disclaimers, engagement and instruction of appraisers and fiduciary account preparation
    • Federal gift, estate, generation-skipping and fiduciary income tax planning and compliance, including planning for special elections, return preparation and handling/settlement of audits and any related Tax Court proceedings
  • Trust Banking.  General representation of bank trust and investment management departments, including advice and assistance with legal and tax compliance, the development, implementation and practical application of appropriate policies and procedures, loss prevention, and staff training.  Advocate for the Michigan Bankers' Assciation in connection with the study and drafting of Michigan's 2009 enactment of the Uniform Trust Code
  • Probate Litigation.  Representation of corporate and individual executors or trustees and of beneficiaries in probate court contested proceedings. Disputes typically involve breaches of fiduciary duty, lack of capacity, undue influence, or interpretation of a governing instrument.  Service as an expert witness in the areas of estate planning, probate, taxation, investment management, and fiduciary accounting. Founded, recruited and trained the Firm's probate litigation team.

Columbia UniversityMBA 1982Fordham UniversityJ.D. 1985

Case History

In re Stoddard Trust, No. 270508 Mich App (Dec 4, 2007) — Affirming order following 7-day trial that denied co-trustee''''''''s request to remove corporate trustee, that removed the individual co-trustee, and that divided the GST grandfathered trust in accordance with a previously obtained IRS private letter ruling
In re Messer Trust, 457 Mich 371, 579 N.W.2d 73 (1998) — Effecting a change in Michigan law to deny beneficiaries a right to jury trial on issues of trustee prudence

In re Howard Stoddard Trust, Nos. 186093, 192711 Mich App (Feb 25, 1997), leave denied 456 Mich 925 (1998) — Affirming summary disposition dismissing co-trustee''''s petition to remove corporate co-trustee

Client Comments

"Jeff, while an estate planning attorney, is known for his expertise in all aspects of nonprofit law and charitable giving. He is the leading expert in our state and likely beyond. He is simply the best!"

-Diana Sieger
Grand Rapids Community Foundation

"Jeffrey Power is the preeminent expert in West Michigan (if not beyond) in the area of Nonprofit/Charities Law. I often refer organizations and people to Mr. Power for their legal needs. Jeffrey Power has been our legal counsel in this area for more than 20 years. He is a trusted and knowledgeable advisor. He has been extremely helpful in providing top-notch service and solid information. Mr. Power is often asked to speak at seminars and events on various topics relating to Trusts and Estates Law. "

-Diana Sieger
Grand Rapids Community Foundation

"Jeffrey B. Power is very knowledgeable about fiduciary and non-profit law. He is always responsive and professional. Clients can count on Jeff to provide thorough and careful analysis of legal issues communicated in a direct and understandable manner."

Office Location

Fifth Third Center, Suite 900
111 Lyon Street, NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503-2487
United States

Practice Areas

Non-Profit / Charities Law (Charitable Gift Planning, Education, Private Foundations, Tax-Exempt Organizations)
Trusts and Estates (Estate Planning, Fiduciary Duties, Financial Institutions, Gift Planning, Litigation, Nonprofit Organizations and Charitable Giving, Tax, Trust Administration, Wealth Management)