Jason Kohout is a partner and business lawyer practicing with Foley & Lardner LLP in its Estates & Trusts Practice. He advises individuals and closely-held businesses with regard to estate planning and related issues. He focuses his practice on closely-held business planning, estate and income tax planning, and trust administration. A significant amount of his practice is related to planning complex charitable gifts, and he works for both individual donors and local and national organizations in this area.
Jason advises individuals and families relating to all aspects of estate planning. He has experience working with high net worth individuals and families to plan and implement complex estate planning techniques. He also works with planning surrounding qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, including IRAs and 401(k)s, and other compensation items.
Jason focuses on all aspects of owning a closely-held business, including on-going income tax planning, governance and management issues, business succession planning, estate planning, and the sale process. Jason's background in income tax (and state income tax issues) is helpful in juggling the many issues inherent in family ownership.
He has advised both donors and charities on how to facilitate tax-advantaged charitable contributions, including contributions of interests in operating entities and in highly appreciated assets. He has formed numerous special purpose charitable vehicles, including charitable remainder unitrusts, charitable lead trusts, private foundations, and supporting organizations.
Jason serves on the firm’s Trust Investment Committee, which provides advice to the firm’s fiduciaries regarding investment decisions. He also works with a variety of investment managers and provides insight into clients’ non-public investments. He has also provided assistance to a number of family offices.
In addition to his work with individuals, Jason advises a variety of tax-exempt organizations in all aspects of formation and on-going operations, including charitable fundraising. He currently assists a large membership organization with unrelated business income tax issues related to licensing activities. He advises a number of organizations regarding political and lobbying activities. Recently, he formed two organizations to operate national donor-advised funds. In all, he has organized about 100 different organizations.
Jason has co-developed Foley's Charitable Academy, a presentation series to prepare professionals for board service and involvement with non-profits as pro bono advisors.
Aside from his estate and trusts work, Jason's practice includes a wide variety of corporate matters. He has experience with mergers and acquisitions, internal business reorganizations, and start-up businesses.
In 2013 and 2014, Jason was selected for inclusion in the Wisconsin Super Lawyers – Rising Stars® lists.
In 2015, Jason was named a Wisconsin Law Journal “Up and Coming Attorney.”
He received the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s 2015 Herbert J. Mueller Society Award for Outstanding Professional Adviser of the Year for his work on a $100 million gift to the new Milwaukee arena.
Jason is very involved in the community, including the following positions:
- Secretary, Harvard Club of Wisconsin
- Director and treasurer, CARMEN High School of Science and Technology Charter School
- Former chair, City of Wauwatosa Community Development Authority
- Former vice chair, Wisconsin Chapter of the Republican National Lawyers Association
- Former board member, Young Non-profit Professionals Network—Greater Milwaukee Chapter
- Former member, Citizens Advisory Board for Capital Improvements for City of Wauwatosa
Jason received his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2007. While in law school, he organized the Harvard Law School’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. Jason also won the HLS Sidney I. Roberts Award for the best paper on the subject of taxation. He graduated, magna cum laude, from Harvard College, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and received a Hoopes Prize for his thesis work on Wisconsin school finance. Jason was previously a research consultant for the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, a Wisconsin think-tank.
- Presenter, “Business Succession and Estate Planning: What Attorneys Should Know in Advising their Clients,” Continuing Legal Education Webcast for Celesq® AttorneysEd Center in partnership with West LegalEdcenter® (2015)
- Presenter, “Charitable Giving in the Year of a Liquidity Event: A Guide for Attorneys,” Continuing Legal Education Webcast for Celesq® AttorneysEd Center in partnership with West LegalEdcenter® (2015)
- Co-presenter, “10 Considerations for Directors of Non-Profits,” East End Charitable Academy (2014)
- Co-presenter, “Planning for Charitable Gifts,” Mid- Winter Estate Planning Clinic (2013)
- Co-presenter, “Business Succession Planning for Family and Closely Held Businesses," The Alternative Board (2013)
- Co-author, “New Regulations on Type III Supporting Organizations Flesh Out Complex Requirements,” WG&L Journals - Journal of Taxation (May 5, 2013)
- Co-presenter, “Tax-Exempts and Political Law,” Milwaukee Tax Club (July 8, 2012)
- Co-author, “Bellco Credit Union Decision Extends Tax-exempt Royalty Treatment to Income from Insurance Sales,” Taxation of Exempts (Sept/Oct 2011 Issue)
- Co-author, Lexis-Nexis Treatise on State and Local Tax Issues
- Co-author, Lexis-Nexis Treatise on Employment Tax
- Co-author, Tax Chapter, Guide to Wisconsin Nonprofit Law, Wisconsin Bar Association Deskbook
- Contributor, Council on State Taxation (COST) updates
- Co-author, Wisconsin State Bar Annual Review of the Law (Tax)
- Developed and administered a charitable lead trust funding strategy for a high-net worth client to save millions in estate tax (and income tax). A Foley attorney continues to serve as trustee and assists family trustees in implementing the strategy. The payments from the trusts have allowed the family a significant and lasting philanthropic impact on the community.
- Advised Senator Herb Kohl on the sale of the Milwaukee Bucks and on Senator Kohl’s landmark $100 million charitable gift to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation fund a new arena for the NBA Milwaukee Bucks.
- Worked with client foundations and trusts to provided due diligence of private equity and real estate investments to confirm investment terms, negotiate investment terms and investment side-cards, as well as provide advice and counsel to investment committees/trustees in making complex, illiquid investments.
- Successfully negotiated school naming gift (+$100 million plus).
- Successfully resolved IRS audit focusing on client’s income tax deduction for multi-million payments made to a public policy, social welfare organization. The IRS’s initial position was that the client owed millions in additional income tax and penalties; the IRS closed the audit while assessing the client with a de minimis adjustment.
- Helped manage and administer the interview process and the hiring of a new CEO for the family office, including developing a strategic plan and new position description, screening and soliciting qualified candidates, and coordinated for interviews with the family. Foley then negotiated the pay package and employment contract (including confidentiality provisions) for the CEO. Foley was integral in developing an onboarding process and new review process for the CEO.
- Worked closely with a family office to develop an education series focused both on investment management (diversification, types of investments, and costs) and legal roles of trustees and beneficiaries. The education series culminated in a new investment policy statement developed with significant input from the family and the investment consultant. Family members report a large improvement in family engagement in the overall investments of the trusts and general ownership of the family office.
- Served on a team of Foley attorney trustees and advisors, who led an investment consultant selection process for a significant single family office. This included selecting, coordinating and summarizing submissions from over 12 different possible providers, working with a committee of family members to develop a family-centric scorecard and criteria for selection, and assisting family members with reviewing submissions and interviewing potential providers. Foley attorneys assisted the family committee in reporting to the larger to obtain agreement for the new investment consultant. Foley attorneys assisted the new investment manager in plans for a tax-efficient transition.