Michael L. Fay

Counsel
T: (617) 274-2870
  • Harvard Law School (J.D., 1975)
  • Oxford University (1972), Rotary Foundation Fellow
  • Dartmouth College (B.A., 1971), summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa

Highlights

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Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2019.
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AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
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Selected for inclusion in the 2018 issue of New England Super Lawyers©.

Biography

“No element of legal practice is more important than service to families. That belief is the foundation of my career as a lawyer.

"The happiness and the harmony of every highly functioning family depends on its ability to enhance the lives of its members in two important ways. First, such a family constitutes a community bound not just by blood or marriage, but by common values, often encouraging, for each of its members, productive work, education, service to each other, and service to the family’s community. In that respect, such a family provides a sense of purpose and direction to its members.

"Second, however, such a family functions to develop the unique talents and aspirations of each of its members, and engenders respect for the differences in its members’ capabilities and goals.

"In my experience, a lawyer well trained and motivated by a desire to serve families can be such a family’s most important and deeply trusted advisor. That lawyer’s role might involve discreet functions, such as establishment of a family council, a family foundation or a family 'bank' for helping finance its members’ new ventures. More importantly, however, that lawyer’s role may be long term, serving perhaps as a counsel to a family business or as one of the trustees for the family wealth.

"Particularly when serving as trustee, or as advisor to the family’s trustees and to its business and wealth advisors, the most important role such a lawyer can play is as mentor to younger generation family members, helping them understand the obligations and benefits of membership in the family, and facilitating each such member’s efforts to identify and develop his or her own talents, aspirations, and sense of self-worth.

"These are the goals to which my entire law practice is dedicated.”

Michael Fay has over 40 years of experience advising clients on all aspects of wealth management, including tax efficient transfer of wealth, creation of family controlled structures for long-term financial management and disposition of family assets, risk management, and implementation and oversight of family philanthropic endeavors. Michael represents high net worth clients and their families in the full range of their wealth management needs, provides expert counsel to venture capitalists, investment bankers, founders of significant private firms, senior officers of publicly owned companies, real estate developers, key executives of pre-IPO and other emerging firms, and families with significant accumulated capital. In his trust and estate practice, Michael has extensive experience coordinating estate and tax planning for wealthy individuals.

Michael has been recognized annually by Worth magazine as one of the nation's "Top 100 Attorneys" based upon his outstanding legal expertise and exceptional client service, and he has also received Boston Magazine’s FIVE STAR Wealth Manager Award. He has been listed annually in Best Lawyers in America© for Trusts and Estates since 1995 and has been named a Massachusetts Super Lawyer each year since 2004 in Estate Planning/Trust Law. Michael has been quoted on estate and tax planning and philanthropy in The Wall Street Journal, Time, Forbes, Financial Planning, US Trust Company of New York’s Business Advisor, Family Business Magazine, The Boston Business Journal and Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, as well as on National Public Radio.

Representative Engagements

  • Negotiated with IRS on terms of a private letter ruling to ensure most favorable tax treatment of donor’s multi-billion dollar philanthropic gift to a major US public charity.
  • Structured and implemented plans—affecting hundreds of millions of dollars each—for public and private company CEOs to benefit both family members and philanthropic interests.
  • Coordinated tax and wealth management strategies for multiple generations of several client families to benefit future generations for decades to come.
  • Strategically planned early, tax efficient transfer of stock to children and grandchildren for key investors and executives at emerging technology companies, well before any eventual IPO or similar transaction.
  • Enhanced development program of national not-for-profit organization on pro bono basis, including advising on sophisticated planned giving opportunities for members.
  • Implemented strategic solutions for executors of numerous significant estates, dealing with difficult issues relating to valuation, management and disposition of interests in significant closely held businesses, resolution of wide array of tax planning problems and opportunities, and discharge of fiduciary duties.

Public Service

Chairman of the Board, Professional Advisors Committee of The Boston 
    Foundation
Overseer, Catholic Student Center at Dartmouth
Member, Executive Committee of the Dartmouth College Alumni Council
Secretary, Dartmouth Educational Association
Secretary, Dartmouth Alumni Association of Eastern Massachusetts

Memberships

Fellow, American College of Trust and Estate Counsel; Member, Charitable Planning Committee
Member, Attorneys for Family Held Enterprises
Member, Corporation of Partners HealthCare

Education

  • Harvard Law School (J.D., 1975)
  • Oxford University (1972), Rotary Foundation Fellow
  • Dartmouth College (B.A., 1971), summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa

Bar Admissions

  • Massachusetts

Court and Other Admissions

  • U.S. Tax Court

Honors

AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© under Trusts & Estates
Selected by peers for inclusion in Massachusetts Super Lawyers© under 
    Estate Planning & Probate