George A. Dionisopoulos

Partner

Overview

George A. Dionisopoulos is a partner and business lawyer in Foley's Estates & Trusts Practice.

He advises high net worth families, and their businesses, charitable foundations and trusts regarding planning arrangements tailored to their specific needs. George advises corporate and individual trustees regarding all facets of trust and estate administration, including counsel regarding fiduciary responsibilities and best practices, and audits with the Internal Revenue Service and state tax authorities. He assists closely held business owners and corporate executives with their particular needs, and advises private clients in successfully transferring family businesses inter-generationally.

Representative Services

  • Counsels private charitable foundations and supporting organizations regarding the unique fiduciary rules governing tax compliance, excess business holdings and trust administration, and specialized planning for charitable gifts and bequests to charitable trusts and foundations, charitable lead and remainder trusts, donor advised charitable funds and other tax exempt entities
    Advises family businesses on succession planning to preserve the company for future generations through the effective transition of ownership, control and management, including shareholder agreements, corporate recapitalizations of voting control, voting trust agreements; and addressing the unique liquidity issues confronting family businesses due to estate taxes and operational liquidity needs upon the death of a shareholder or key executive
  • Provides specialized planning to prepare closely held businesses for sale, and pre-transaction planning to address income tax considerations and non-operational assets held on the balance sheet
  • Advises families regarding estate planning to preserve privacy and flexibility while making effective use of tax exemptions and asset protection trust arrangements
  • Implements “estate freeze” planning for proactive use of tax exemptions, including lifetime gift strategies through Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs), Installment Sales to Defective Grantor Trusts (IDGTs), Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILITs), Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (QPRTs), family loans and other arrangements
  • Advises corporate executives regarding specialized planning for stock options, deferred compensation and other executive benefits
  • Counsels families on all aspects of trust and estate administration, including fiduciary responsibilities, rights and interests of beneficiaries; management of estate and gift tax audits, and all related services to administer estates and trusts effectively in accordance with the donor’s intent

Recognition

  • Ranked Band 1 in Chambers High Net Worth Guide for Private Wealth Law in the USA: Wisconsin
  • Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America© and Wisconsin Super Lawyers® in the estate planning field
  • Peer Review Rated as AV® Preeminent™, the highest performance rating in Martindale-Hubbell's peer review rating system
  • Recognized as Milwaukee Estates and Trusts “Lawyer of the Year,” by Best Lawyers
  • Selected as “Leader in the Law” by the Wisconsin Law Journal. which recognizes and celebrates leading practitioners and judges based on a wide variety of achievement criteria, including outstanding leadership and vision
  • Former chair of Foley & Lardner LLP National Estates and Trusts Practice

Affiliations

  • Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estates Counsel
  • Past president of the Milwaukee Estate Counselors Forum

Community Involvement

  • Board member, Renaissance Theaterworks, a Milwaukee Theater company with a mission of improving gender parity in the arts
  • Previous board positions include leadership roles with the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Ten Chimneys Foundation, Neighborhood House, Old World Wisconsin Foundation, and the Wisconsin Historical Society

Admissions

  • Wisconsin

Education

  •  J.D, Harvard University, cum laude (1980)
    • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Bachelor’s Degree, University of Illinois, summa cum laude (1976)

Representative Matters

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In 2011 Foley advised on the sale of a significant minority ownership interest in the Cincinnati Bengals NFL franchise by the estate of Austin E. “Dutch” Knowlton. Mr. Knowlton was an original owner of the Bengals, a 1968 American Football League expansion team, and a former chairman of the team’s board of directors. The estate of Mr. Knowlton had originally reached terms to sell its shares to investors in New York, but through a right to match such terms, ownership of the Cincinnati Bengals was retained by the existing ownership group.
Represented a large privately owned manufacturing company and its shareholders in a complex business succession planning matter that included implementation of a revised ownership structure and shareholders agreement, and implementation of installment sale and grantor retained annuity trust planning.

Capabilities