Overview

Tom Abendroth combines the precision of a “numbers guy” with the insight and understanding of a trusted confidant. Deep knowledge of the tax law and estate planning techniques is critical for any private client's attorney. Tom pairs that knowledge with a strong sense of empathy that allows him to quickly discern the sensitive family issues that a client needs to address in his or her estate plan.

Tom counsels clients on the full range of wealth transfer planning, seamlessly melding the tax implications of estate planning with the unique circumstances of the client's family and non-tax goals. He has worked extensively with owners of family businesses, private equity and hedge funds, and in the professional sports industry.  Tom takes a practical approach to their estate planning. He recognizes that transfer tax savings do not have to come at the undue price of complexity and burdensome administrative costs.

Tom also has extensive trust and estate litigation experience, representing both fiduciaries and beneficiaries. He has worked closely with Schiff Hardin trial lawyers in litigating issues, including the rights of adopted individuals under a trust, the modernization of trust investment powers, alleged fiduciary self-dealing, and the rights of remainder beneficiaries in a disabled settlor's revocable trust. He also has counseled fiduciaries on trust construction issues accountings, trust decanting and trust severance and merger.

  • Experience

    • Tom implemented a corporate reorganization for a family business with rapidly increasing value to keep voting control out of the senior family member's estate, preserve a preferred stock freeze and facilitate transfers of stock to the next generation. The business will now pass out of the senior generation's hands with minimal estate tax, and the family has been able to transfer more than 30% of the business to the grandchildren generation.
    • A family preparing to take their company public hired Tom for help organizing their assets prior to the company’s public listing. Tom created a series of grantor retained income trusts and grantor retained annuity trusts. The trusts enabled the family to transfer more than $200 million of value out of their estates.
    • Tom took advantage of a one-year opportunity to terminate several non-Generation Skipping Tax exempt trusts in favor of lower generation family members, including implementing trust modifications to facilitate distribution and providing opinion letters. The terminations saved more than $25 million in future taxes.
    • A real estate developer and a private venture capital investor were able to transfer more than $50 million of fund interest out of their estates thanks to Tom, who facilitated the transfer by designing limited liability company/irrevocable grantor trust structures.
    • Tom has negotiated charitable gifts involving naming opportunities for a hospital, museum and public venue.
    • Multiple families with ownership interests in family real estate and investment entities have turned to Tom have turned to facilitate transfers of control and simplify the future management of the trusts.
    • Tom successfully represented a corporate fiduciary in a lawsuit by beneficiaries attempting to terminate a trust early using the rule against perpetuities.
  • Credentials

    Education

    • Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, J.D., 1984, magna cum laude
    • Ripon College, B.A., 1981, summa cum laude

    Bar Admissions

    • Illinois
      • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

          Professional Memberships

          • American Bar Association, Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law
          • The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), Fellow
          • Chicago Bar Association
          • Chicago Estate Planning Council
          • American Bankers Association

          Teaching Appointments

          • Faculty, American Bankers Association National Graduate Trust School (1990-present)
        • Insights

          TITLE
          Event
          Alert

          Tax Reform One Year Later: Winners and Losers

          One year has passed since significant tax law changes were enacted in December 2017. The overall impact of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) on estate and tax planning for individuals and their families is close to what we expected — it’s been a mixed bag for taxpayers.

          Event

          Do Trusts Really Create Trust Fund Babies?

          40th Annual Duke University Estate Planning Conference

          Location:
          Durham, N.C.
          Event

          Decanting Issues

          American Bankers Association

          Event

          Advanced Planning for the Generation-Skipping Tax

          American Bankers Association National Graduate Trust School

          Location:
          Atlanta, Ga.
          Event

          Estate Planning for Medium-Sized Estates

          American Bankers Association National Graduate Trust School

          Location:
          Atlanta, Ga.
          Event

          Issues that Arise with Grantor Trusts

          American Bankers Association

          News Release

          61 Schiff Attorneys Named to 2019 Best Lawyers in America List and Six Recognized as “Lawyer of the Year”

          Schiff Hardin is pleased to announce that 61 attorneys have been included in the 2019 edition of The Best Lawyers in America, as well as six who were named a “Lawyer of the Year” in their respective areas of practice.

          News Release

          Schiff Hardin Attorneys Recognized as “Leaders in Their Field” in 2018 Chambers High Net Worth

          Schiff Hardin is pleased to announce that six attorneys were recognized as “Leaders in Their Field” in the 2018 edition of Chambers High Net Worth, a legal industry ranking focused on the private wealth market.

          Event

          Tax & Estate Update: How Clients are Responding to the Recent Tax Law Changes

          2018 FOX Family Office Forum

          Location:
          Chicago, Ill.

          Other Publications

          Schiff Hardin's Private Clients Group has a long history in scholarship and contribution to the education of the legal community. Tom has authored and co-authored over 35 articles and presented at over 150 conferences. He has spoken at the Heckerling Institute of Estate Planning, Duke University Estate Planning Conference, the Southern Federal Tax Institute and Notre Dame Tax and Estate Planning Institute. Since 2003, Tom has co-presented a monthly telephone briefing series on trust and tax issues for the American Banker Association. Hundreds of trust professionals have passed through Tom's classes at the American Bankers Association Trust School since he started teaching over 25 years ago.

          • "The Illusory Asset Protection of LLCs and the Eroding Asset Protection of Trusts," American Law Institute Continuing Legal Education Estate Planning Course Materials Journal (Aug. 2013)
          • "The Game Changer: Maximizing Use of $5M Gift and GST Exemptions," (co-author) ABA Trust and Investments (Jan./Feb. 2012)
          • "Drafting Considerations and Trustee Concerns Over Concentrated Stock Holdings," ABA Trust and Investments (Sep./Oct. 2011)
          • "Ticking Time Bombs in Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts," (co-author) ABA Trust & Investments (Mar./Apr. 2008)
          • "Competency Issues With Elderly Clients," (co-author) ABA Trust & Investments (Sep./Oct. 2007)
          • Estate Planning Strategies After Estate Tax Reform: Insights and Analysis, (co-editor) CCH (2001)
          • Illinois Estate Planning, Will Drafting and Estate Administration Forms - Practice (two-volume treatise, supplemented annually), Lexis Law Publishing, 3d ed. (1999)
          • Estate and Personal Financial Planning, chapter on sophisticated tax planning techniques, Thomson/West (1988)

          Speeches & Presentations

          • “Recent Developments in Estate and Trust Administration,” American Bankers Association (Dec. 6, 2018)
          • “Do Trusts Really Create Trust Fund Babies?” 40th Annual Duke University Estate Planning Conference, Durham, N.C. (Oct. 11, 2018)
          • “Decanting Issues,” American Bankers Association (Oct. 4, 2018)
          • “Advanced Planning for the Generation-Skipping Tax,” American Bankers Association National Graduate Trust School, Atlanta, Ga. (Sep 26, 2018)
          • “Estate Planning for Medium-Sized Estates,” American Bankers Association National Graduate Trust School, Atlanta, Ga. (Sep. 24, 2018)
          • “Issues that Arise with Grantor Trusts,” American Bankers Association (Sep. 6, 2018)
          • “Tax & Estate Update: How Clients are Responding to the Recent Tax Law Changes,” 2018 FOX Family Office Forum, Chicago, Ill. (Jul. 18, 2018)
          • “Ethical Issues for Trust Professionals,” American Bankers Association, 2018 Trust and Estate Planning Briefing Series (Jun. 7, 2018)
          • “Please, Don’t Put It There: Navigating the Prohibited Transaction and Minimum Distribution Rules in IRAs,” 61st Annual Estate Planning Short Course, IICLE, Chicago, Ill. (May 24, 2018)
          • “Fiduciary Litigation Workshop,” American Bankers Association (May 3, 2018)
          • “Do Trusts Really Create Trust Fund Babies?” Kansas City Estate Planning Symposium, Kansas City, Kan. (Apr. 26, 2018)
          • “Powers of Attorney and Financial Institutions: Oil and Vinegar?” Kansas City Estate Planning Symposium, Kansas City, Kan. (Apr. 26, 2018)
          • “Trustee's Duty to Account and Disclose,” American Bankers Association Telephone Briefing (Apr. 5, 2018)
          • “Estate Planning & Tax Implications,” Texas Bankers Association Wealth Management & Trust Conference (Mar. 28, 2018)
          • “Annual Exclusion Gifts and Other Gifting Strategies,” American Bankers Association Telephone Briefing (Mar. 1, 2018)
          • “Fiduciary Income Tax Considerations Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” Monthly National Wealth Advisor Meeting, Northern Trust, Chicago, Ill. (Feb. 20, 2018)
          • “2018 Estate Planning Update,” Family Office Exchange (Feb. 7, 2018)
          • “The Impact of the 2017 Tax Act: What Trusts and Estates Professionals Need to Know,” American Bankers Association Briefings, Teleconference (Feb. 1, 2018)
          • “Family LPs and LLCs: The Unwind,” Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning: Closing-Held Business Planning, Coral Gables, Fla. (Jan. 24, 2018)
          • “Business Succession: Abdicate? Affiliate? Alienate? Bifurcate? Syndicate? Liquidate? Vacillate? Don’t Wait. Cogitate and Participate,” Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning: Closing-Held Business Planning, Coral Gables, Fla. (Jan. 23, 2018)
          • “Recent Developments in Estate and Trust Administration,” American Bankers Association’s 2017 Trust and Estate Planning Briefing Series (Dec. 7, 2017)
          • “Planning for the Elderly: What Can and Should Be Done for an Increasingly Aging Population,” American Bankers Association’s 2017 Trust and Estate Planning Briefing Series (Nov. 2, 2017)
          • “A New Look at Distribution Standards,” American Bankers Association’s 2017 Trust and Estate Planning Briefing Series (Oct. 5, 2017)
          • “Do Trusts Really Create Trust Fund Babies?” Chicago Estate Planning Council (Sep. 20, 2017)
          • “Retirement Benefits,” American Bankers Association’s 2017 Trust and Estate Planning Briefing Series (Sep. 7, 2017)
          • “Tax and Estate Update,” (co-presenter) Family Office Exchange Financial Executives Forum, Chicago, Ill. (Jul. 19, 2017)
          • “Planning in Illiquid Estates,” American Bankers Association’s 2017 Trust and Estate Planning Briefing Series (Jun. 1, 2017)
          • “Fiduciary Litigation Roundtable,” American Bankers Association’s 2017 Trust and Estate Planning Briefing Series (May 4, 2017)
          • “Please, Don’t Put It There: Navigating the Prohibited Transaction and Minimum Distribution Rules in IRAs,” 36th annual Kansas City Estate Planning Symposium, Overland Park, Kan. (Apr. 27, 2017)
          • “Trustee Liability for Investments -- A Review of the Current State of the Prudent Investor Rule; Delegation; and Direction,” American Bankers Association’s 2017 Trust and Estate Planning Briefing Series (Apr. 6, 2017)
          • “The Section 2704 Valuation Rules and their Impact on Advanced Estate Planning Techniques,” American Bankers Association’s 2017 Trust and Estate Planning Briefing Series (Mar. 2, 2017)
          • “2017 Estate Planning Update,” (co-presenter) Family Office Exchange Webinar (Feb. 1, 2017)
          • “Advanced Generation Skipping Tax,” American Bankers Association Graduate Trust School (Sep. 28, 2016)
          • “Estate Planning for Medium Sized Estates,” American Bankers Association Graduate Trust School (Sep. 26, 2016)
          • “Defining the Benefits of Valuation Discount Planning,” IICLE Short Course, Champaign, IL and Chicago, IL (May 18 and May 26, 2016)
          • “Pre and Post Sale Planning for You, Your Company, and Your Family," A Conference for Business Owners: M&A Solutions for Privately Held Companies, Chicago, IL (May 4, 2016)
          • “Hot Button Tax Issues for the IRS,” Kansas City Estate Planning Symposium, Overland Park, Kan. (Apr. 21, 2016)
          • “The ABCs of Estate Planning Acronyms,” ACTEC Annual Meeting, Las Vegas, Nev. (Mar. 19, 2016)
          • American Bankers Association’s Trust and Estate Planning Briefing Series (2009-2016)
          • “Portability:  Now Available in Generic Form,” 48th Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning (Jan. 13, 2014)
          • “Portability: The New Estate Planning Wonder Drug?,” 46th Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning (Jan. 10, 2012)
          • “Covering Your Assets: The Illusory Protection of LLCs and the Eroding Protection of Trusts,” Louis Sussman Memorial Tax Seminar (Nov. 10, 2011)
          • “Planning for the Closely Held Business - Exit Strategies During Life,” Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning (Jan. 28, 2010)
        • Citizenship

          Pro Bono Activities

          • Tom has served on the Ripon College Board of Trustees since 1996, and has chaired its Finance and Advancement Committees. He is an active volunteer at his church, where he currently serves as Treasurer and a member of the finance and endowment committees.
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        What is a "rollover?"

        Anyone dealing with a retirement account has probably heard the term "rollover." Chicago partner Tom Abendroth explains the various types of transfers generally referred to as rollovers. MORE

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        Q&A: The doctor is in and school is in session

        Chicago partner Thomas Abendroth answers frequently asked questions about the gift tax medical and tuition expense exclusion. MORE