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

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            News Release

            Schiff Hardin Joins the Family Wealth Alliance

            Schiff Hardin LLP is pleased to announce its membership in the Family Wealth Alliance (FWA), a multifamily wealth organization whose member firms serve approximately 7,000 private families around the country and advise on approximately $2.5 trillion of assets.

            News Release

            Schiff Attorneys Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America 2022

            Schiff Hardin LLP is pleased to announce that 51 attorneys have been listed in The Best Lawyers in America 2022.

            News Release

            2021 Chambers High Net Worth Recognizes Schiff’s Trusts and Estates Group and Attorneys

            Schiff Hardin LLP is pleased to announce that the firm’s Private Clients, Trusts and Estates Group and six partners have been recognized by Chambers High Net Worth (HNW) 2021 guide, a publication that ranks the top attorneys and law firms for international private wealth.

            News Release

            Eighty-One Attorneys Named to 2021 Leading Lawyers

            Schiff Hardin LLP is pleased to have 81 attorneys named to the 2021 Leading Lawyers list.

            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.

            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.

            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
          • Awards & Honors

            • The Best Lawyers in America, Best Lawyers (2021-2022)
            • Chambers High Net Worth – Private Wealth Law, Illinois (2018-2021)
            • Illinois Leading Lawyer, Law Bulletin’s Illinois Leading Lawyers Network (2011-2021)
            • Top 100 Women Consumer Lawyers, Law Bulletin’s Illinois Leading Lawyer’s Network (2013)
            • Rising Star, Anti-Defamation League (2010)

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

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          "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