Overview

Sarah Kerr Severson takes a holistic approach to helping individuals and multigenerational families implement and manage comprehensive estate plans and business succession plans. Sarah brings an instinct for facilitating transition and a keen awareness of the “softer side,” familial and social issues, which uniquely position her to guide clients through special needs planning, wealth transfer planning and charitable planning techniques.

A counselor to those with significant wealth, Sarah assesses her client’s circumstances, diagnoses the issues and coordinates a plan that meets both immediate and long-term goals. Her holistic approach takes into account all of the financial, personal, tax and non-tax objectives in play.

Sarah recognizes that her client’s plans and established entities have lives of their own; they need continuous care and feeding. Sarah quarterbacks all issues that affect her clients and takes very seriously her role as a trusted business adviser and confidant for current and future generations. 

  • Experience

    • Guiding individuals and multigenerational families through estate, trust and guardianship litigation and administration.
    • Serving as special counsel to individuals and multigenerational families when conflicts arise.  
    • Assisting multigenerational families with developing and adopting a business succession plan, including educating the next generation.
    • Educating clients about charitable planning techniques, establishing the charitable entity and advising on all administrative processes.
    • Creating the blueprint and facilitating implementation of comprehensive, client-specific, leveraged wealth transfer techniques.
    • Counseling clients through the unique planning and solutions available to individuals with special needs and disabilities, ranging from special needs trusts to guardianships.
    • Advising individual and corporate fiduciaries on all aspects of administration and liability, ranging from fiduciary best practices and risk management to representation in litigation. 
  • Credentials

    Education

    • Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, J.D., 1998
      Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Member
    • University of Iowa, B.A., 1995, summa cum laude
      Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha of Iowa chapter, President

    Bar Admissions

    • Illinois

            Professional Memberships

            • Chicago Bar Association
            • Family Office Exchange, Thought Leaders Council
            • Illinois State Bar Association
            • LaGrange Lawyers League
          • Insights

            TITLE
            News Release

            Schiff Trusts and Estates Group and Attorneys Recognized in 2020 Chambers High Net Worth

            Schiff Hardin LLP is pleased to announce that the firm was ranked for its work in Private Wealth in Illinois and nationwide in the 2020 edition of Chambers High Net Worth, a legal industry ranking focused on the private wealth market.

            News Release

            Eighty-Eight Attorneys Named to 2020 Leading Lawyers

            Schiff Hardin LLP is pleased to announce that 88 attorneys have been named to the 2020 Leading Lawyers list.

            Event

            The Engaged Beneficiary: What You Need to Know

            Family Office Exchange Rising Gen Forum

            Location:
            Chicago, Ill.
            News Release

            Schiff Trusts and Estates Group and Attorneys Recognized in 2019 Chambers High Net Worth

            Schiff Hardin LLP is pleased to announce that the firm was ranked for its work in Private Wealth in Illinois and nationwide in the 2019 edition of Chambers High Net Worth, a legal industry ranking focused on the private wealth market.

            News Release

            2019 Leading Lawyers Lists Recognize 95 Schiff Attorneys

            Schiff Hardin LLP is pleased to have 95 attorneys named to the 2019 Leading Lawyers list.

            News Release

            Schiff Hardin Attorneys Recognized as “Leaders in Their Field” in 2018 Chambers High Net Worth

            Schiff Hardin is pleased to announce that six attorneys were recognized as “Leaders in Their Field” in the 2018 edition of Chambers High Net Worth, a legal industry ranking focused on the private wealth market.

            News Release

            95 Schiff Hardin Lawyers Named to 2018 Leading Lawyers Lists

            Ninety-six Schiff Hardin lawyers have been named to the 2018 Leading Lawyers lists for Illinois and Michigan.

            News Release

            99 Schiff Hardin Attorneys Named to 2017 Leading Lawyers List

            Ninety-nine Schiff Hardin lawyers have been named to the 2017 Leading Lawyers list for Illinois and Michigan.

            News Release

            91 Schiff Hardin Lawyers Named to 2016 Illinois, Michigan Leading Lawyers Network

            The list is comprised of those attorneys who are most recommended as top lawyers among their peers.

            Other Publications

            • “Litigation in Illinois Guardianships,” in Estate, Trust, and Guardianship Litigation, 2002 Edition (2006 Update), Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education 

            Speeches & Presentations

            Sarah frequently lectures on a wide range of estate planning topics. Her audiences include professional advisory groups, employer-sponsored seminars, corporate clients and the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education (IICLE). Topics on which Sarah has spoken include:

            • “The Engaged Beneficiary: What You Need to Know”, FOX Rising Gen Forum, Chicago, Ill. (Oct. 28, 2019)
            • “Diagnostic Tools for Estate and Business Succession Planning”
            • “Becoming Financially Savvy”
            • “Planning with Life Insurance: Opportunities and Obstacles”
            • “Personal Wealth Action Plans for Private Equity Professionals”
            • “How to Inform, Inspire and Integrate the Next Generation”
            • “Time-Sensitive Estate and Gift Planning Opportunities”
            • “Managing Fiduciary Risk”
            • “Successful Women Invest in Themselves”
            • “Am I Too Young For Estate Planning?”
            • “Preparer Guide to the Federal Estate Tax Return”
            • “Planning With Disclaimers”
            • “Planning For Disabled Beneficiaries”
            • “A Roadmap Through the Estate Planning Process”
            • “Business Succession Planning Tips”
            • “Special Issues in Illinois Guardianships”
          • Citizenship

            Civic and Charitable Memberships

            • Mark Morton Memorial Fund, President
            • Strategic Philanthropy, Ltd., Advisory Board

          "Sarah Kerr Severson: Mixing Hands-On Business with Boys, Movies"

          image description

          "When some clients call estate planners, they think they're calling because their accountant told them to get a will or a trust. But for Sarah Kerr Severson, 40, a partner at Schiff Hardin LLP, that's really just the starting point. Her practice ranges from estate and trust litigation to counseling multi-generational families on how to transfer their wealth and businesses." Read Article