Michael D. Whitty


[email protected]

Phone: (312) 360-6192

Fax: (312) 360-6520

Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes. Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible.

– Judge Learned Hand



Michael Whitty is a Partner in the Corporate Practice Group. He concentrates his practice in estate planning, taxation, and estate and trust administration. Michael represents business owners, principals of venture capital and private equity funds, key executives, investors, and other highnetworth individuals in planning for the preservation and transfer of their wealth.

Specifically, he advises individuals and fiduciaries in the design and drafting of estate plans, wills, trusts, lifetime gifts, premarital agreements, and other estate planning documents. Michael has extensive experience with various types of trusts, family limited partnerships, corporate recapitalizations, shareholders’ and redemption agreements, private annuities, installment sales, intratrust sales and other transactions, selfcanceling installment notes, and net gifts. He also reviews and manages estate and gift tax returns, including complex reporting and valuation issues.

Additionally, Michael consults with executors, administrators, guardians, and trustees in probate and trust administration. He supervises the drafting of estate administration documents and the filing of pleadings, motions and accountings with probate courts. He also advises clients in connection with litigation involving disputes between trustees and beneficiaries and in contested trust and tax matters, and he has served as an expert witness in such cases.

Prior to joining Freeborn, Michael was a Partner at Handler Thayer LLP. 

Honors & Awards

Honors & Awards

  • Illinois Super Lawyers – Estate Planning & Probate, Tax, Estate & Trust Litigation, Closely Held Business, 2006, 2008 – 2018
  • Leading Lawyers – Trust, Will & Estate Planning Law, Tax Law, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2020
  • Certificate in Family Business Advising (CFBA) – Family Firm Institute’s Global Education Network
  • Certificate in Family Wealth Advising (CFWA) – Family Firm Institute’s Global Education Network

Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • VP/Treasurer, Director, Attorneys for Family Held Enterprises
  • Fellow, American College of Trust and Estate Counsel
  • Fellow, Family Firm Institute
  • Member, Chicago Estate Planning Council

Speaking Engagements

  • "Family Governance Structures that Actually Fit a Psychological Model of Human Behavior," Institute for Family Governance, New York (January 24, 2019).
  • "A Jane Austen Festival for Family Firms and Advisers," Family Firm Institute, London, England (October 26, 2018).
  • "Special Industry Concerns as They Relate to Estate Planning for Family Businesses," ACTEC Foundation Podcast (September 11, 2018).
  • "Tax Effects of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, 2017," Wisconsin Association of Accountants Annual Conference, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin (July 30, 2018).
  • "Life Cycle of a Business Entity: Special Industry Concerns," American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, Chicago, Illinois (June 21, 2018).
  • "2018 Tax Update for Family Enterprises," Attorneys for Family Held Enterprises, Phoenix, Arizona (April 19, 2018).
  • "Family Office Formation Decision," Attorneys for Family Held Enterprises, Miami, Florida (April 28, 2017).
  • "Administering Unusual Assets," ALI Annual Estate Planning In-Depth Summer Program at the University of Wisconsin, co-sponsored by Continuing Legal Education for Wisconsin (CLEW) of the University of Wisconsin Law School. Madison, Wisconsin (June 27, 2016).
  • "Inside Baseball with Multiple Models of Family Offices," American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, Boston, Massachusetts (June 18, 2016).
  • "Midday Fix: Tips for Powerball Winners," WGN, Chicago, Illinois (January 8, 2016). 
  • "Estate Planning for Business Owners," Annual Summer Program at the University of Wisconsin Co-sponsored by Continuing Legal Education for Wisconsin (CLEW) of the University of Wisconsin Law School, Madison, Wisconsin (June 24, 2015).
  • "Gas and Oil Leases, Planes, Cars & Guns Too: Dealing with Tangible Personal Property in Estate Planning," 58th Annual Estate Planning Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE) Short Course," Champaign, Illinois (May 13, 2015) and Chicago, Illinois (May 19, 2015).
  • "Estate Planning for Owners of Franchises, Dealerships, and Distributorships," Attorneys for Family Held Enterprises Annual Meeting, Scottsdale, Arizona (April 25, 2015).
  • "Woelbing and Installment Sales," ABATAX Midyear Meeting, Houston, Texas (January 30, 2015).
  • "Family Enterprise and Wealth Challenges Today and Into the Future," The Equitable Agents Reinsurance Company Annual Meeting sponsored by AXA Equitable, Boca Raton, Florida (February 6, 2014).
  • "Legal Crisis Planning & Management for the Family Enterprise," Family Firm Institute Global Conference, San Diego, California (October 16-19, 2013).

Teaching Experience

Mr. Whitty served for three years as an adjunct professor at the Northwestern University School of Law, teaching a course titled “Federal Estate and Gift Taxation and Estate Planning.”





  • Author, "The Jane Austen Plan Club: Lessons for Estate Planners and Their Clients from the Life and Novels of Jane Austen," Real Property Probate & Trust Law Journal, Vol. 47, No. 3, Winter (2012).
  • Co-Author, "Valuing Private Equity Interests in Estate Planning," Practical Tax Strategies, January (2011).
  • Author, "GRAT Expectations: Questioning, Challenging and Litigating the Service Position on Estate Tax Inclusion of Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts," ACTEC Journal, Vol. 36, No. 1, Summer (2010).
  • Author, "Heresy or Prophecy? The Case for Limiting Estate Tax Inclusion of GRATs to the Annuity Payment Right," Real Property Probate & Trust Law Journal, Vol. 41, No. 2, Summer (2006).
  • Author, "Repercussions of Walton," Probate & Property, May/June (2005).
  • Author, "Effects of Low Interest Rates On Investment Driven Estate Planning Techniques," Estate Planning, December (2003).
  • Author, "Prototype User’s Manual for Family Partnership," Practical Tax Lawyer, Spring (2003).
  • Co-Author, with Domingo Such, "Qualified State Tuition Programs Under IRC §529: One of the Best Ways to Save for College," Trusts & Estates, January (2002).
  • Author, "Crummey Trust Computations," Probate & Property, January/February (1995).