Overview

First and foremost, Stephen considers himself a teacher. Tax and estate planning are complicated, but Stephen enjoys making these topics as simple as possible so his clients can be confident they are making the best decisions for themselves, their families, and the charities they care about.

Stephen starts every relationship by helping families articulate their goals. What issues need to be addressed? Are there opportunities to take advantage of? Using his unique background that includes seven years working at leading financial services firms, Stephen helps clients find a balance between tax optimization, complexity, risk, and competing non-tax goals. He then engages a family’s team of advisors to fully integrate their personal, legal, and financial planning.

Stephen’s practice focuses on the needs of wealthy individuals and families, their businesses, and charities. His extensive experience includes domestic and international trust and estate planning, tax minimization, advanced life insurance strategies, and planned charitable giving. He has helped clients with pre-sale and pre-IPO planning, planning with concentrated stock positions, planning with fund interests, trust decanting and trust modifications, minimizing state income taxation of trusts, dynasty trusts, generation skipping transfer (GST) tax, split-dollar life insurance, planning with art, private foundations, charitable lead trusts, and charitable remainder trusts. He has advised families on the formation and operation of foreign trusts, pre-migration planning, foreign investment in U.S. real property, voluntary disclosures, and expatriation. 

Stephen has authored or co-authored more than 30 articles. A frequent lecturer, he has spoken at numerous industry conferences in the United States and globally. Stephen currently chairs the Estate and Gift Tax Committee of the Real Property, Trust & Estate Section of the American Bar Association.

  • Credentials

    Education

    • New York University, LL.M., 2001
    • Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., 2000, cum laude
    • Vassar College, B.A., History and Africana Studies, 1997, with honors

    Bar Admissions

    • Connecticut
    • New York
        • U.S. Tax Court

          Professional Memberships

          • American Bar Association, Estate and Gift Tax Committee of the Real Property, Trust & Estate Section, Chair (2019-Present)
          • American Bar Association, Estate and Gift Tax Committee of the Real Property, Trust & Estate Section, Vice Chair (2016-2019)
          • American Bar Association, Member
          • New York Bar Association, Member
          • STEP, Member
        • Insights

          TITLE
          Event

          Opportunities in a World Gone Mad

          Sterling Trustees LLC

          Location:
          Webinar
          Article
          Alert

          New York Allows Video Notarization for Estate Planning as Social Distancing Becomes Norm

          The coronavirus pandemic has created a new normal of social distancing and self-isolation. A side effect of this new normal is the inability for clients and advisers to come together in the same room to discuss, plan, and execute on their estate planning objectives.

          In The News
          News Release

          Schiff Hardin Continues Strategic Expansion with Three Estate Planning Lawyers in New York and Chicago

          Schiff Hardin has continued to expand its Private Clients, Trusts and Estates Practice Group with the addition of three attorneys in its New York and Chicago offices. Stephen Liss, a former senior wealth strategist for UBS Financial Services and Barclays, joins as a partner in the firm’s New York office.

          Selected Publications

          • “Section 199A- The Great Divide,” Leimberg Income Tax Planning Newsletter #129 (Jan. 2018)
          • “Expatriation and the New Section 2801 Proposed Regulations,” Heckerling White Paper of the International Tax Planning Committee, American Bar Association (Jan. 2016)
          • “Using DINGs to Reduce Federal Income Tax,” Trusts & Estates Magazine (Jul. 2015)
          • “The Benefits and Burdens of Foreign Trusts,” Probate & Property (May/June 2015)
          • “Expatriation: Opportunities in a Mist of Uncertainty,” Journal of International Taxation (Dec. 2014)
          • “Wandry Does Wonders for Formula Clause Gift Strategy,” Estate Planning (Oct. 2012)
          • "In Estate of Duncan, the Tax Court Returns to Traditional Graegin Loan Principals," Journal of Taxation (Apr. 2012)
          • "Valuation Clauses: Panacea or Pandora's Box?" Trusts & Estates Magazine (Apr. 2011)
          • "Maybe Price is Right: Making Annual Exclusion Gifts of Non-Controlling Interests," Practical Tax Strategies (Jul. 2010)
          • "Cross Border Philanthropy: Why is Doing the Right Thing Never Easy?" STEP U.S.A., Issue 10 (Nov. 2009)
          • "Charitable Lead Annuity Trusts-A Primer," Taxation of Exempts (Jul./Aug. 2007)

          Selected Speeches & Presentations

          • “Opportunities in a World Gone Mad,” Sterling Trustees, Webinar (Mar. 31, 2020)
          • “The Qualified Business Income Deduction for Real Estate Investors and Professionals,” American Bar Association RPTE Spring Symposia, Boston, Mass. (May 10, 2019)
          • “Everything Old is New Again: Forming a Family Business After the TCJA,” 56th Great Plains Federal Tax Institute, La Vista, Neb. (Nov. 29, 2018)
          • “Expatriation: What You’ll Pay When There’s Nothing Left to Say,” 21st International Tax Symposium, State Bar of Texas (Nov. 8 , 2018)
          • “The Forgotten Transfer Tax: The Fundamentals of the Generation Skipping Transfer Tax,” (co-presenter) American Bar Association RPTE E-CLE, Webinar (Sep. 18, 2018)
          • “Powell Proof Your Partnership,” (co-presenter) American Bar Association RPTE Spring Symposia (May 11, 2018)
          • “The Bad and the Ugly of Trust Drafting,” (co-presenter) Federal Tax Institute of New England (Nov. 18, 2016)
          • “Foreign Trust Traps: In-Bound Planning With Foreign Trusts,” American Bar Association Joint Tax and RPTE Fall Meeting (Sep. 19, 2014)
          • "Tax and Reporting Obligations of U.S. Green Card Holders," STEP, Johannesburg, South Africa (May 2010)