Michael L. Van Cise


Direct: 404.873.8790
Fax: 404.873.8791
171 17th Street NW
Suite 2100
Atlanta, Georgia 30363


Michael is a partner in the Private Wealth practice and a member of the Tax-Exempt & Charitable Organizations industry team. He guides families and individuals of high net worth through sophisticated wealth transfer planning, federal and state wealth transfer taxation, business succession planning, charitable giving, and probate and estate administration. Michael assists clients to preserve family wealth, family values, business interests, and legacy assets. Michael helps his clients refine estate plans and conduct strategic wealth transfer planning. He has particular experience assisting clients with grantor-retained annuity trusts funded with assets including publicly traded securities, closely held businesses, and holding companies. Michael works with family-owned and closely held business owners on business succession planning and liquidity planning. He advises clients on shareholders agreements, lifetime gifting, life insurance planning, and management and control transition. His experience also includes estate planning for non-resident aliens, international wealth transfer planning, and lifetime and testamentary charitable planning.

In addition to representing individuals, Michael advises tax-exempt entities such as public charities, private operating foundations, and private grant-making foundations. Michael advises these mission-driven organizations on issues such as private foundation excise taxes, corporate governance, and various tax compliance requirements.

Michael lends his expertise to a wider audience by authoring articles appearing in national publications such as Estate PlanningTrusts and Estates, and Taxation of Exempts. Prior to attending law school, he was a development officer for Darlington School in Rome, Georgia, an independent, coeducational, college preparatory school, serving high school boarding and day students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade.


  • Assisted client in creating and funding a charitable remainder annuity trust (CRUT) for the benefit of the donor and the donor’s spouse
  • Represented co-executors of a decedent’s estate with a gross estate value in excess of $175 million; successfully resolved estate tax audit
  • Represented client in obtaining a private letter ruling granting 9100 relief for failure to timely allocate federal generation skipping transfer (GST) tax exemption on a federal gift tax return allowing client to allocate GST exemption as of the date of the gift rather than on current trust values for a long-term, dynastic trust effectively saving the family potentially millions in wealth transfer taxes
  • Advised closely-held business involving complex ownership structure and trust ownership on corporate transparency act (CTA) compliance
  • Assisted owner of closely-held business in transferring non-voting shares to family members representing a 10% ownership in the enterprise using a grantor retained annuity trust (“GRAT”). For a nominal gift tax cost, business owner effectively transferred more than twenty million dollars of value to family when the business was sold several years after the completion of the GRAT.
  • Advised purchaser of interests of a closely-held business pursuant to buy-sell agreement from a Georgia decedent’s estate with respect to estate tax lien discharge
  • Advised non-resident, non-citizen of United States on structure of purchase of multi-million dollar Manhattan real estate to mitigate federal and New York estate tax
  • Advised former green card holder on tax implications of surrender of green card including treaty benefits under U.S.-India income tax treaty
  • Advised non-resident, non-citizen of United States on structure of foreign trust to qualify as grantor trust for U.S. income tax purposes under section 672(f) of the Internal Revenue Code
  • Advised resident of Germany with property in United States on U.S estate tax liability under U.S-Germany estate tax treaty
  • Assisted client with 9-year term qualified personal residence trust (“QPRT”) funded with a $3.05 million home that ultimately transferred more than $3 million to children for using less than $1.425 million of client’s gift exemption; advised client on QPRT conversion to GRAT when home was sold during QPRT trust term
  • Advised corporate trustee in decanting irrevocable trust governed under Florida law to extend duration of trust to lifetime of current beneficiary
  • Represented client in connection with decanting of an irrevocable trust governed under Georgia law to extend ages of distribution to trust beneficiaries
  • Represented client in connection with a judicial modification of an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) to allow for current distributions of income and principal to child of grantor
  • Assisted trustee-client with non-judicial settlement agreement (NJSA) to authorize termination of irrevocable trust and distribution of trust property to current income beneficiaries and obtain releases from remainder beneficiaries


    • University of Georgia School of Law, Juris Doctor,
      magna cum laude
      • Order of the Coif
      • Executive Notes Editor, Journal of Intellectual Property
    • Mercer University, Bachelor of Arts,
      summa cum laude
      • Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award
      • Omicron Delta Kappa
      • Phi Kappa Phi
      • Mercerian Award
    • Darlington School
      • Faculty medal for general excellence
    • State of Florida 2012
    • State of Georgia 2006
    • Professional:

      • Atlanta Estate Planning Council, 2011-present
      • Georgia Bar Association, Section of Fiduciary Law, 2006-present
      • American Bar Association, Section of Real Property, Trust & Estate, 2007-present
      • Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners
      • Philanthropic Advisor Leadership Institute (PALI), a collaboration between the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and the United Way of Greater Atlanta, 2017-18



      • Mercer University Planned Giving Council
      • Leadership Darlington Graduate, 2012
      • Darlington School Second Century Campaign, Atlanta Campaign Cabinet Member
      • Darlington School Annual Fund, Alumni Gifts Chair, 2010-11
      • Darlington School Alumni Council (former President)


    • American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, Fellow
    • Best Lawyers in America®, Trusts and Estates Law, 2020-24
    • Best Lawyers in America®, Nonprofit/Charities Law, 2023-24
    • Chambers High Net Worth, Private Wealth Law, 2018-23
    • Georgia Super Lawyers, Estate Planning & Probate, 2020-22
    • “Rising Star,” Georgia Super Lawyers, Estate Planning & Probate, 2011, 2014-19
    • “Legal Elite,” Georgia Trend, 2014, 2017
    • AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings

    News & Insights

    Thought Leadership

    Speaking Engagements
    • “What Every Estate Planner Needs to Know About the Corporate Transparency Act”, ICLE, February 2024
    • “Early, Mid & Late-Stage Preparations for Exit”,  XPX Atlanta, June 2020
    • “What Charitable Advisors Need to Know in 2020”, Business Radio X, January 2020
    • “Top Ten Takeaways for 2020: What Charitable Advisors Need to Know”, Georgia Planned Giving Council, November 2019
    • “Pre and Post Sale Planning for Business Owners”, Merrill Lynch Private Sale Referral Network, November 2019
    • “Elective Share Traps for the Unwary”, Fiduciary Law Institute – ICLE, July 2019
    • “Decedents’ Estates in Real Estate Closings”, ICLE, February 2018
    • “Building and Managing a Practice, a Panel Discussion”, Atlanta Estate Planning Council, May 2017
    • “Drafting a Will 201”, ICLE, March 2017
    • “The Job’s Not Over When The Documents Have Been Drafted: Complex Issues in Strategy Implementation and Tax Reporting”, Fiduciary Law Institute – ICLE, July 2016
    • “Intra-Family Transactions in Estate Planning: Structuring Loans and Self-Cancelling Installment Notes”, Strafford, June 2015
    • “Intra-Family Transactions in Estate Planning: Structuring Loans, Installment Sales and Sales to IDGTs”, Strafford, June 2014
    • “Basic Will Formats”, May 2013, October 2012, March 2012, March 2011
    • “Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts”, Strafford, March 2013
    • “Charitable Gifts of Retirement Plan Assets”, May 2012
    • “Implications of the 2010 Transfer Tax Changes on Business Owners”, XM Radio, February 2011
    • “Charitable Giving with Retirement Plan Assets”, October 2010
    • Co-author, “Issues to Consider in Real Estate Transactions Involving Trusts and Estates,” Georgia Bar Journal, February 2022
    • Co-author, “Navigate the Complex World of Spousal Entitlements at Death,” Estate Planning, January 2020
    • Co-author, “Important Considerations in Intra-Family Loans,” (Williamette Management Associates) Insights, Fall 2014
    • Co-author, “Common and Complex Gift Tax Return Errors to Avoid,” Estate Planning, June 2014
    • Co-author, “Removal and Replacement of Trustees,” Trusts & Estates, December 2013
    • Co-author, “How Typical Charitable Beneficiaries Can Cause Indirect Self-Dealing Problems,” Taxation of Exempts, March/April 2012
    • Co-author, “Estates Can Qualify for an Income Tax Charitable Deduction,” Estate Planning, May 2011