David A. Handler, P.C. - Partner

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David A. Handler, P.C.

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Phone: +1 312-862-2477
Fax: +1 312-862-2200
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Professional Profile

DAVID A. HANDLER is a partner in the Trusts and Estates Practice Group of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Mr. Handler is a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), a member of the NAEPC Estate Planning Hall of Fame as an Accredited Estate Planner (Distinguished), and a member of the professional advisory committees of several non-profit organizations, including the Chicago Community Trust, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Goodman Theatre, WTTW11/98.7WFMT (Chicago public broadcasting stations) and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.

He is one of only 16 U.S. lawyers (as of 2015) ranked in “Band 1” by Chambers USA in the Wealth Management category, is listed in The Best Lawyers in America© (Trusts and Estates) and its 2016 Trusts and Estates “Chicago Lawyer of the Year”, in the Guide to the World’s Leading Trusts and Estates Practitioners, in Who’s Who Legal: Private Client, received the Austin Fleming Distinguished Service Award from the Chicago Estate Planning Council and was identified as one of the top 100 lawyers in Illinois in the 2006 list of “Illinois Super Lawyers.” Leading Lawyers Magazine has listed David as one of the “Top Ten Trust, Will & Estate” lawyers in Illinois as well as a “Top 100 Consumer” lawyer in Illinois. David was named a Trusts & Estates Trailblazer by The National Law Journal in 2016.

He is an Editorial Advisory Board Member of Trusts & Estates Magazine for which he has written the monthly “tax update” column for more than 10 years. Mr. Handler is a co-author of an e-book on estate planning, The Complete Estate Planning Sourcebook (published by Wolters Kluwer). He has authored many articles that have appeared in prominent estate planning and taxation journals, magazines and newsletters, including Lawyer’s Weekly, Trusts & Estates Magazine, Estate Planning Magazine, Journal of Taxation, Tax Management Estates, Gifts and Trusts Journal, The Chase Journal and RIA’s Estate Planner’s Alert. He is regularly interviewed for trade and news periodicals, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Lawyer’s Weekly, Registered Representative, Financial Advisor, Worth and Bloomberg Wealth Manager magazines.

Mr. Handler is a frequent lecturer at professional education seminars. Mr. Handler concentrates his practice on trust and estate planning and administration, representing owners of closely-held businesses, principals of private equity/venture capital/LBO funds, executives and families of significant wealth, and establishing and administering private foundations, public charities and other tax-exempt entities.

Mr. Handler is a 1992 graduate of Northwestern University School of Law and received a B.S. Degree in Finance with highest honors from the University of Illinois College of Commerce in 1989.

Memberships & Affiliations

American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) Fellow

Tax Management Estates, Gifts and Trusts Advisory Board

Professional Advisory Committee of the Chicago Community Trust

Chicago Estate Planning Council

WTTW11/98.7WFMT Planned Giving Advisory Committee (Chicago public broadcasting stations)

The Goodman Theatre Professional Advisory Board (2005-present; chair 2011-2013)

Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago Professional Advisory Committee

The Art Institute of Chicago Gift Planning Advisory Committee

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago - Legacy Partners

American Society for Technion - Israel Institute of Technology

West Northfield School District 31 School Board Member (2000-2013, President 2010-2013)

Editorial Advisory Board Member of Trusts & Estates Magazine

Other Distinctions

Recipient of Austin Fleming Distinguished Service Award from the Chicago Estate Planning Council (2015)

NAEPC Estate Planning Hall of Fame as an Accredited Estate Planner (Distinguished)

Listed in Tier 1 for Wealth Management in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business

Listed in The Best Lawyers in America©, Best Lawyers in America (Trusts and Estates) and its 2015 Trusts and Estates “Chicago Lawyer of the Year”

Top 100 lawyers in Illinois in the 2006 “Illinois Super Lawyers” list



The Complete Estate Planning Sourcebook (Wolters Kluwer)

Drafting the Estate Plan: Law and Forms (CCH)

Essential Estate Planning: A Definitive Guide to Planning and Practice

Chapter titled "Asset Freeze and Valuation Reduction Techniques" in Estate Planning for Illinois Attorneys: The Basics and Beyond, published by Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE), 2001, 2003 and 2007 supplement

Contributing Editor of the American Bankers Association Estate Planning Manual (1998-1999)


Venture Capital Review:

"Using Derivatives to 'Transfer' Carried Interests in Private Equity, LBO and Venture Capital Funds" - Spring 2006

Trusts & Estates Magazine:

Monthly Tax Update column - 2003 - present

"Economically Zeroed-Out GRATs Produce the Best Results" - January 1999

"Discounts: Know When to Hold 'Em" - October 1999

"Guaranteed GRATs: GRATs Without Mortality Risk" - December 1999

"GRAT Remainder Sale to a Dynasty Trust" - December 1999

"Retaining Testamentary Power of Appointment" - January 2000

"RPM Trusts: Turning the Table on Chapter 14" - July 2000

"The HEET Trust: A New Twist on Section 2503(e)" - July 2000

"Locking-In The Benefits of Investment-Driven Estate Planning Strategies" - January 2001

"The Estate Trust Revival: Maximizing the Full Basis Step-Up for Spouses" - August 2001

"Uses and Benefits of Conservation Easements After the 2001 Tax Act" - December 2001

"Fresh Thinking About Gift-Splitting" - January 2002

"The GRAT Remainder Sale" - December 2002

"Tax-Free Gifts of Prepaid Tuition" - February 2003

"Avoid FLPs" - May 2003

"FLPs vs. RMAs" - August 2003

"Tax Year in Review" (pullout supplement) - January 2003 through 2012

"Bona Fide Sale" - February 2005

"The Power of Grantor Trusts" - March 2006

"The Case for Principle Trusts and Against Incentive Trusts" - October 2008

"The Net Gift Strategy: Good for a Bear Market" - December 2008

"Scratching Your Head Over Estate Plans" - August 2010

Tax Management Estates, Gifts and Trusts Journal:

"Life After Strangi: What to Do with Existing Entities" - Volume 29, No. 3, May 13, 2004

"GRATs and RPM Annuity Trusts: A Comparison" - Volume 29, No. 4, July 8, 2004

"RPM Trusts: A Better Way to Transfer Wealth" - 2009

Estate Planner's Alert RIA:

"Practice Alert: Accumulation QTIP Trusts: The Overlooked Provisions of the Marital Deduction Regulations" - March 2000

Estate Planning Magazine:

"The LPA LID: A New Way to 'Contain' Gift Revaluations" - June 2000

CCH Journal of Practical Estate Planning:

"Self-Adjusting GRATs" - October 2005

CCH Financial and Estate Planning:

"Self-Adjusting GRATs" - March 2006

CCH Journal of Retirement Planning:

"Self-Adjusting GRATs" - February 2006

Chase Journal:

"Investment-Driven Estate Planning: Why Make It If You Can't Keep It?" - Volume IV, Issue 2, 2000

Journal of Taxation:

Co-author of "Tax Consequences of Outstanding Trust Liabilities When Grantor Status Terminates" - Volume 95, No. 1, July 2001

Co-author of "Formula Disclaimers: Procter-Proofing Gift Revaluations" - March 2002

Estate Tax Planning Advisor:

"Using Net Gifts to Reduce Gift Tax Exposure" - February 2003

Lawyer's Weekly:

"RPM Annuity Trusts: A 'GReAT' Alternative - January 2004

Northwestern Mutual Advanced Planning Bulletin:

"Making and Optimizing Gifts and Bequests to Pay Educational and Medical Expenses" - July 2007

On Wall Street:

"Lesson from the Michael Jackson Estates" - August 2009

"The Future of the Estate Tax is Upon Us" - December 2009

Philip E. Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning

"Financed Net Gifts Compared to Sales to Grantor-Trusts" - 2010, Volume 44

"There's No Place Like Home-Unless You Give It Away" - 2012, Volume 46

New York University Institute on Federal Taxation

"Alternative Planning Strategies to Enhance GRATs and IDGTs: Decreasing Short-Term GRATS and Financed Net Gifts as an Alternative to Sales" - 2009, Volume 67

"Evaluating the Sometimes Surprising Impact of Grantor Trusts on Competing Strategies to Transfer Wealth" - 2010, Volume 68

"Estate Planning with Disregarded Entities" - 2012, Volume 70

Steve Leimberg's Estate Planning Newsletter

"The Estate Trust Revival: Maximizing Full Basis Step-Up"


American Bankers Association National Graduate Trust School (1998-99, 2004)

The Philanthropy Roundtable Annual Meeting (1999)

Cannon Financial Institute Courses and Teleconferences (2000-2001)

Tax Management Educational Institute Symposium on EGTRRA (2001)

Southern Nevada Estate Planning Council (2002, 2011)

Northwest Suburban (IL) Estate Planning Council (2002)

Chicago Bar Association - Probate and Trust Law Section (2002, 2003)

The International Forum Annual Meeting (2003)

Chicago Estate Planning Council (2003, 2005, 2011, 2015)

IICLE Annual Estate Planning Short Course (2003-2007)

AICPA Advanced Estate Planning Conference (2003, 2005)

Appraisers Association of America Annual Meeting (2003)

BNA Tax Management Estates, Gifts and Trust Advisory Board Meeting (2004, 2009)

Kellogg Alumni Club of Chicago (2004)

Orange County Estate Planning Council (2004)

William Blair & Company, LLC (2004)

Notre Dame Annual Estate Planning Institute (2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015)

New York University Institute on Federal Taxation (2004, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013)

IICLE Spring 2005 Seminar (2005)

IIR Family Office Management Conferences (2006)

IICLE Illinois Estate Administration Conference - Creative Use of Disclaimers (2006-2008)

JPMorgan Private Client Services Group (2006)

Financial Planning Association - Illinois Financial Forum (2006)

National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) Council of Advanced Practitioners Program (2006, 2011)

Virchow, Krause & Company, LLP 2006 Financial & Estate Planning Group Meeting (2006)

David Vaughan Investments Tax, Estate & Retirement Planning Forum (2006)

Philadelphia Estate Planning Council (2007)

Lorman Educational Seminar (2007)

Sun Valley Estate Planning Conference (2008)

University of Miami Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)

Sidney Kess New York Estate, Tax and Financial Planning Conference (2009)

American Institute on Federal Taxation (2009)

Chicago-Kent College of Law of Federal Tax Institute (2009)

HSBC (2010)

JPMorgan and Chicago Botanic Garden (2010)

WTTW/Museum of Science & Industry (2010)

Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum (2010)

Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA) (2010)

Chicago Bar Association (2011, 2012)

Brownson, Rehmus & Foxworth Fall Meeting (2011)

Austin Bar Association (2012)

South Dakota Bar Association (2012)

Crowe Horwath meeting (2012, 2013)

Forum 400 (2013)

Denver Estate Planning Council (2013)

Illinois CPA Society Estate and Gift Tax Conference (2013)

Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund (2013)

National Association of Estate Planners and Councils Annual Conference (2013)

Milwaukee Estate Planning Forum (2014)

Camp Owners & Directors Association (2014)

AICPA Conference on Tax Strategies for High Income Individuals (2014)

American Bar Association Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law 25th Annual Spring CLE Symposium (2014)

Estate Planning Council of St. Louis (2015)

Greater North Shore Estate and Financial Planning Council (2015)

Portland Estate Planning Council (2015)

Tax Planning for High Net Worth Clients (joint CPA firm symposium) (2015)

Essex County Estate Planning Council (2015)

Wealth & Estate Planning Seminar sponsored by The Community Foundation, Florida Atlantic University and United Way of Palm Beach County (2015)

American Bar Association Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Webinar (2015)

Duke University Estate Planning Conference (2015)

Palm Beach County Wealth & Estate Planning Seminar (2015)

Plante Moran (2015)

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