Michael designs and implements wealth transfer plans, including wills, trusts, and other estate plan instruments, for families and closely held businesses.

Michael is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), the preeminent organization of estate lawyers in the U.S. He has been praised by his peers as “extraordinarily smart” (Chambers USA). One source told Chambers, “Michael Gooen is probably the smartest guy in the room. He’s absolutely brilliant.”

Many of Michael’s clients are successful professionals with first-generation wealth. Unlike “old money” families–for whom estate planning is already an integral part of the culture–these clients are thinking about wealth transfer for the very first time. They frequently face the issue with some discomfort but recognize that taxes, intrafamily conflict, and other factors can lead to financial catastrophe. Michael helps navigate the complexities of business transitions and assists clients in passing their wealth as tax-efficiently as possible, with proper safeguards in place so that assets provide more benefits than burdens to future generations.

Clients with closely held businesses, including companies in the financial services industry, particularly value Michael’s substantial experience in transactional tax planning, including domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions and partnership formations. He moves at the client’s pace, speaks the client’s language, and stays attuned to the complexities of each enterprise. Michael is particularly adept at designing complex ownership agreements for closely held entities and then advising the equity holders in their personal wealth transfer planning.

Representative Experience

• Counsels dozens of families in the optimal use of lifetime gift and generation-skipping transfer tax exemptions, thereby facilitating first-generation access, influencing second- and third-generation financial independence over time, and minimizing taxes.

• Counsels international and domestic family offices on U.S. estate and income tax planning both for family members and for associated business entities.

• Represents individuals before the IRS in estate and gift tax audits and in seeking private letter rulings relating to generation-skipping transfer tax exemptions.

• Develops trust and estate planning strategies integrating philanthropic and tax savings goals.

• Develops management and purchase/sale arrangements for family businesses and associated holding companies.


• Stanford Law School (J.D., 1990), Moot Court Board, 1989

• Harvard University (B.A., 1987), magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa

Michael Gooen
Partner - Trusts & Estates, Tax
Lowenstein Sandler

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