333 W. Wacker Drive, Suite 2000
Chicago, IL 60606-1288
With more than four decades' experience helping talented entrepreneurs and professionals launch and grow businesses, Lewis M. Schneider understands the delicate balance between business and family. Schneider's holistic approach to representing privately-held businesses and professional practices recognizes the intimate connection between strategic planning for business and estate planning for business owners – and the need to position estate planning within the context of family relationships and social factors.
Schneider works with individuals, families, professional practices, corporations, limited liability companies, business owners and executives engaged in manufacturing, fabricating, marketing and sales, real estate development, professional practices and many other fields. By linking strategic business planning to estate planning, Schneider helps these clients avoid two pitfalls: On the corporate side, he says, business owners often "put their heads in the sand and fail to develop succession plans that sustain their enterprises from one generation to the next." On the family side, “they formulate careful estate plans with well-constructed trust documents, but when those trusts go unfunded, assets can be mired in probate, with unintended consequences."
The process begins by helping clients choose the best entity through which to conduct business and then preparing operating and shareholder agreements, overseeing asset transactions and planning for succession or sale of the ownership interest or the business' underlying assets. Simultaneously, estate planning considers wealth transfer strategies that minimize taxes, consider the needs of family members not participating actively in the business, facilitate philanthropic objectives, protect assets from outside demands and coordinate with business succession plans. “Our goals are to equip clients for change, for business succession and for distribution of assets, as well as for end of life concerns,” explains Schneider. "We want to ensure that clients' wishes are clear and that the people upon whom they are relying are prepared to execute those wishes."
To accomplish these goals, Schneider delves deep into "all the factors influencing clients' decision-making: who they trust and count on as successors in their business or as heirs. It can seem intrusive, but we have to understand how everything fits together." He encourages open discussion about all issues among families to minimize surprises. "It's when people are surprised," warns Schneider, "that unexpected consequences occur."
Schneider's holistic approach has kept him engaged with clients across as many as three generations, providing continuing business strategy, estate planning support and administering estates and trusts. "No one likes to think about not being here or being disabled," Schneider acknowledges. "By asking the right questions now, we can identify all the issues and move people toward solutions that work."
- Illinois Bar
- U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
- Application pending for Colorado Bar
- J.D. John Marshall Law School (with honors)
- BA, Elmhurst College
- Chicago Bar Association
- Chicago Estate Planning Council