Michele A. W. McKinnon Partner

Michele serves as the chair of the firm's nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations practice team. With more than 25 years of experience, Michele routinely represents many public charities, major colleges and universities, supporting organizations, large private foundations, and charitable trusts on a variety of federal tax and governance matters.

She assists tax-exempt organizations in all aspects of compliance with the federal tax laws, as well as with governance, endowment and investment matters. Her practice includes advice on compliance with the excess benefit transaction rules and the private foundation rules, including self-dealing, excess business holding, and taxable expenditure issues, participation in joint ventures, and consequences of unrelated trade or business activities. She also assists these organizations in dealing with the IRS in tax controversy matters and compliance audits.

Her work also includes structuring planned gifts to charitable organizations, including the use of charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, charitable gift annuities and conservation easements. She also works in the areas of estate planning, and estate and trust administration, handling the administration of large complex estates, fiduciary income tax matters, fiduciary litigation, and risk management for corporate trust departments.

Michele is a Fellow in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, and served as the immediate past Virginia State Chair of the organization. She also currently sits on its Charitable Planning & Exempt Organizations Committee. She is also a member of the Fiduciary Income Tax Committee of the Tax Section of the American Bar Association. She is a former chair of the Trusts and Estates Section of the Virginia State Bar.

While earning her law degree at the University of Richmond, Michele was a member of the McNeill Law Society.


Implementation of numerous planned gifts, including charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, gift annuities, and gifts of remainder interests in personal residences, including related gift documents and plans to meet unique donor objectives.

Establishment of and advice to numerous family and corporate private foundations regarding self-dealing, excess business holding, jeopardy investment, minimum distribution, and taxable expenditure rules. Requests for IRS rulings on tax classification changes, including conversions to private foundation, publicly supported organization, and Type I, II, or III supporting organization.

Advice on unrelated business income tax issues, including affinity card agreements, debt-financed income, and gift shop sales.

Preparation of planned giving forms for a number of educational institutions and corporate fiduciaries.

Legal, tax, and governance compliance audits for several university-affiliated foundations and a large national membership organization.

Excess benefit transaction advice in connection with executive compensation of chief executive and other officers of universities and other public charities and sales transactions involving substantial contributors to public charities.

Planning and implementation of sale and gift of major art collection valued at more than $40 million to museum-affiliated foundation.

  • William & Mary Law School, LLM, 1992
  • University of Richmond School of Law, JD, magna cum laude, Member, University of Richmond Law Review, 1985
  • University of Virginia, BA, 1982

Member and Fellow; Virginia State Chair, 2008-2013; Charitable Planning & Exempt Organizations Committee, 2009-2012, American College of Trusts and Estates Counsel

Taxation Section Member, Fiduciary Income Tax Committee, American Bar Association

Member, Real Property, Probate & Trust Section, American Bar Association

Member; Chairman, 1999-2000; Vice Chairman, 1998-1999; Secretary, 1997-1998, Trusts and Estates Section, Virginia State Bar

Member, Richmond Bar Association

Member, Virginia Bar Association

Member, Partnership for Philanthropic Planning

Member, Virginia Gift Planning Council

Member, University of Richmond Estate Planning Advisory Council

Member, National Association of Colleges and University Attorneys

Director, 2001-2009, The Community Foundation, Richmond, Virginia

Director, Missionary Emergency Fund

Director and Chairman, The Steward School Foundation

Director, Vice Chair, Chair, Audit and Governance Committee; Member, Investment Committee, and Member, Personnel Committee, Richmond Memorial Health Foundation

Member, Charitable Advisors, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Member, Planned Giving Advisory Council, St. Christopher’s School

Member, Nonprofit Advisory Committee, Community Tax Law Project

  • Speaker, "2017 Tax Act Changes Affecting Nonprofits", "Charitable Giving after the 2017 Tax Act" and "Effective Advocacy for Change: Understanding Tax Boundaries," 16th Annual Nonprofit Seminar, October - November 2018
  • Speaker, "Philanthropy: Impact of Taxes and other Motivating Factors on Donors," 13th Annual Fiduciary Advisory Services Seminar: Opportunities for Fiduciaries in Times of Change, October 3, 2018
  • Speaker, "Tax Reform and the Impact on Tax-Exempt Organizations," Essential Insight on Sweeping Tax Reforms, February 1, 2018
  • Panelist, Tax Reform Behind the Headlines: Challenges and Opportunities for Charities, McGuireWoods LLP Webinar, June 6, 2017
  • Speaker, Managing Relationships: Best Practices for Working with Service Providers, McGuireWoods LLP and The Regulatory Fundamentals Group, July 2016
  • Speaker, New Developments in Tax and Wealth Planning, October 2015
  • Speaker, "Tax Classification of Charitable Organizations: Public Charities, Private Foundations, and Donor Advised Funds," "Unrelated Business Taxable Income: Case Studies," "Drafting Effective Gift Agreements" and "Charitable Remainder and Charitable Lead Trusts: A Primer," 13th Annual Nonprofit Seminar – Staying Current and Avoiding Trouble: What Nonprofits Need to Know, September - October 2015
  • Speaker, "Issues with Proprietary Funds," Be a Road Warrior, Not Road Kill: Issues Confronting Fiduciaries, October 2015
  • Co-Speaker, "Restricted Charitable Gifts: Draft Agreements that Stand the Test of Time," 49th Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning, January 2015
  • Moderator and Co-Speaker, "Current Tax Developments Affecting Nonprofits," "Impact of Tax Reform Proposals on Nonprofits," and "ACT Recommendations for the Unrelated Business Income Tax," 12th Annual Nonprofit Seminar - Charities: More Change on the Horizon? , September - October, 2014
  • Speaker, "Charitable Trusts: Tax Classification Under the 2012 Type III Supporting Organization Final and Temporary Regulations," Surmounting the Current Challenges: Issues Confronting Professional Fiduciaries, October 2013
  • Co-speaker, "Current Tax Developments," "The Role of the Board of Directors – General Governance and Major Events" and "Best Practices in Planned Giving and Gift Management," 11th Annual Nonprofit Seminar: Best Practices in Nonprofit Management, September and October 2013
  • Faculty, "After the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012," Charitable Planning in 2013, The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, February 2013
  • Speaker, "Substantiation of Charitable Gifts," Virginia Gift Planning Council, December 2012
  • Speaker, "Current Tax Developments Affecting Nonprofits," and "Substantiation of Charitable Gifts and Charitable Solicitation Registration," 10th Annual Nonprofit Seminar: Regulatory and Legal Challenges Facing Nonprofits, September - October 2012
  • Panelist, "Nonprofits: Tax Classification and Governance," WebCredenza Teleseminar, March 2012
  • Moderator, "Your Seat at the Table – Being the Lawyer on a Non-Profit Board," WMACCA Corporate Governance Conference: The Well-Run Board, March 2012
  • Speaker and Panelist, "Charitable Contribution Developments; Exempt Organization Developments; Investment and Endowment Management for Nonprofits; and, Unrelated Business Income Tax: A Trap for the Unwary," 9th Annual Nonprofit Seminar, October 2011
  • Speaker, "Global Philanthropy," ACTEC Charitable Planning Committee, October 2011
  • Speaker, "Charitable Contribution Fiascos," Fiduciary Advisory Services Seminar: The Changed Environment for Corporate Fiduciaries: How to Successfully Meet the Challenges, McGuireWoods LLP, October 2011
  • Speaker, "Creative and Practical Planning with Private Foundations," ALI-ABA Sophisticated Estate Planning, September 2011
  • Speaker, "Protecting the Donor’s Charitable Deduction," Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Charitable Advisors, September 2011
  • Panelist, "Duties and Liabilities of Nonprofit Directors and Officers," WebCredenza Teleseminar, May 2011
  • Speaker, "Current Developments Affecting Tax-Exempt Organizations and Charitable Giving,", December 2010
  • Speaker, "Current Developments Affecting Tax-Exempt Organizations and Charitable Giving," Fiduciary Advisory Services Seminar - Issues Facing Corporate Fiduciaries: Going Boldly (Blindly) into a Brave New World, McGuireWoods LLP & Fiduciary Education Center, LLC, October 2010
  • Speaker, "Tax and Legal Update," Finance Administration Roundtable, June 2010
  • Panelist, "Selecting the Best Charitable Donee: Public Charity, Donor Advised Fund, or Private Foundation," ACTEC Annual Meeting, March 2010
  • Speaker, "Creative Uses of Charitable Remainder and Charitable Lead Trusts," Hampton Roads Estate Planning Council, January 2010
  • Speaker, "Creative Charitable Giving in Times of Economic Uncertainty," Partnership for Philanthropic Planning of the Blue Ridge, December 2009
  • Speaker, "Charitable Update," How to Successfully Deal With the New Challenges Facing a Corporate Fiduciary, McGuireWoods LLP & The Fiduciary Education Center, November 2009
  • Speaker, "Private Foundation Requirements and Restrictions," Lorman Educational Services, November 2009
  • Speaker, "Thinking Outside the Box: Innovative Charitable Giving in an Uncertain Economy," Duke University Estate Planning Conference, October 2009
  • Speaker, "The New Uniform Management of Institutional Funds Act," Yount, Hyde & Barbour Nonprofit Symposium, June 2009
  • Speaker, "The New Form 990 and Current Developments for Nonprofits," Virginia YMCA, February 2009
  • Speaker, "The New Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act," Virginia Gift Planning Council, January 2009
  • Speaker, "Current Developments Affecting Nonprofits and Form 990 and Good Governance," NSBA Council of School Attorneys State Association Counsel Meeting, November 2008
  • Speaker, "Creative Uses of Charitable Remainder and Charitable Lead Trusts," McGuireWoods Fiduciary Advisory Services, November 2008
  • Speaker, "The New Form 990," Southeastern Council on Foundation Health Legacy CEO Assembly, March 2008
  • Speaker, "The 2006 Charitable Legislation: Navigating Uncharted Waters," 59th Annual Conference on Federal Taxation, June 2007
  • Virginia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit
  • U.S. Tax Court

Named a "Notable Practitioner," Private Wealth Law, Band 1, District of Columbia and Nationwide, 2016, 2017; Band 2, Virginia, 2018; Chambers HNW Guide

Named "Lawyer of the Year," Trusts and Estates, The Best Lawyers in America, 2018

Named a "Divorce, Trusts and Estates Trailblazer," The National Law Journal, 2017

Selected for inclusion in America's Leading Lawyers for Business, Wealth Management: Eastern Region, Nationwide, Chambers USA, 2013-2016

Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, Non-Profit/Charities Law, Trusts and Estates, Woodward/White, Inc., 2007-2019

Named to "Virginia Super Lawyers," Non-Profit, Tax, Estate Planning & Probate, Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2006, 2012-2013, 2015-2017

Back to top