Michael D. Sontag
Michael Sontag serves as the chair of the firm’s Trusts & Estates Practice Group. Michael’s extensive experience in this area has solidified his national reputation as a leader in generational-asset protection, as well as strategic and financial planning for individuals, families and businesses.
For nearly 40 years, Michael has worked closely with individuals, fiduciaries, wealth advisors, businesses, trustees and beneficiaries to provide strategic, financial guidance while serving the confidential and sophisticated estate-planning, estate-administration and business needs of an extensive client list of celebrities, athletes, politicians, musicians, business owners, executives and high-net worth families and individuals. These wide-ranging experiences have allowed Michael to evolve a unique and often tailored service-offering specific to each client’s nuanced and complex individual needs.
Michael is often sought by a unique variety and caliber of clients due to his empathetic and honest relationship skills and the countless recommendations from former clients that attest to his ability to transform client vulnerability about the future into confidence. Michael’s steadfast dedication to his craft has successfully helped protect years of client financial achievement, ensuring fair tax treatment and helping individuals and businesses appropriately avoid the imposition of hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes.
Michael’s work includes:
- Trusts & Estates – Representing some of the wealthiest families in the region with respect to their business succession, wealth transfer and charitable planning needs; evaluating and developing a unique estate plan for each client, customized to fit their individual, family and/or business needs including: asset protection, wealth transfer planning, tax reduction planning and charitable giving; guiding individuals and families through the often-difficult legal and financial intricacies associated with the loss of a family member.
- Business Succession Planning – Advising the owners and/or c-suite executives for large privately-held business interests as they transition these businesses, whether through intergenerational transfers or through one or more rounds of monetization transactions involving third-party sales of those interests, and the multitude of family and tax issues confronted in those unique circumstances; guiding clients through entity formation, structuring, financial management, succession planning and tax planning; counseling clients of all sizes and complexity of circumstances related to the complex federal, state and local tax laws.
- State & Local Tax – Advising clients in a wide range of tax disputes regarding Tennessee’s sales and use tax, franchise and excise taxes, business tax, and property taxes; addressing issues prior to litigation through a variety of approaches that are more cost-effective and efficient; conducting requests for letter rulings, negotiating resolutions with the Department of Revenue during audits, contested assessments through the informal conference process, and filing claims for refunds of taxes paid; resolving clients’ tax issues through the legislative process and advocating for legislation to protect clients’ interests.
- Economic Development & Corporate Relocation – Assisting businesses that are expanding in or relocating to Tennessee achieve the maximum value through state tax incentives, payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreements and state grant programs.
- Regulatory & Administrative Proceedings – Representing clients before the State Board of Equalization to contest real or personal property tax assessments; representing clients at administrative proceedings before an administrative law judge to dispute actions taken by the Department of Revenue, including decisions regarding qualifications for the industrial machinery credit, headquarters facility credit, and other tax credits or incentives.
In addition, Michael takes the time to speak formally and share his knowledge with his colleagues as a frequent lecturer on trust and estate, business and tax matters.
American College of Trusts and Estates Counsel (ACTEC)
Nashville Bar Association — Board Member
Tennessee Bar Association
American Bar Association
Media Mentions & Firm News
Chambers High Net Worth Guide — Private Wealth Law (2017-2023)
Best Lawyers® — Nashville Litigation and Controversy: Tax “Lawyer of the Year” (2024, 2019, 2012)
The Best Lawyers in America© — Administrative/Regulatory Law; Litigation: Trusts and Estates; Litigation and Controversy: Tax; Trusts and Estates (1995-2024)
Nashville Business Journal — “Best of the Bar” (2013, 2020, 2022-2023)
Mid-South Super Lawyers (2006-2023)
Top 100 Tennessee Super Lawyers (2012-2013, 2017-2018, 2020-2021, 2023)
Top 50 Nashville Super Lawyers (2012-2013, 2017-2018, 2020-2021, 2023)
Business Tennessee — “Top 150 Lawyers in Tennessee”
Nashville Post — Nashville’s 101 Top Lawyers” (2011)
Nashville Post “In Charge” (2012)
Vanderbilt University Law School/Paul J. Hartman State and Local Tax Forum — Trustee and Former President
Tennessee Federal Tax Institute — Trustee and Former President
“Tennessee Taxes” CCH Guidebook — Contributing Editor