Michele A. W. McKinnon Partner

Michele serves as the chair of the firm's nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations practice team. With more than 33 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 she previously served as its Virginia State Chair. She also served as Vice Chair of its Charitable Planning & Exempt Organizations Committee and became Chair of that Committee in March 2019. Michele is also a member of the Fiduciary Income Tax Committee of the Tax Section of the American Bar Association and is a former chair of the Trusts and Estates Section of the Virginia State Bar.


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 Trust and Estate 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, National Association of Charitable Gift Planners

Member, Virginia Gift Planning Council

Member, Community Foundation for a greater Richmond Professional Advisors Council

Member, National Association of Colleges and University Attorneys

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

Director, Missionary Emergency Fund

Trustee, The Steward School

Director, Secretary, Richmond Memorial Health Foundation

Director, Richmond Opportunities, Inc.

Member, Charitable Advisors, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

  • 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

Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, Non-Profit/Charities Law, Trusts and Estates, Woodward/White, Inc., 2007-2020

Named to "Virginia Super Lawyers," Non-Profit, Tax, Estate Planning & Probate, Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2006, 2012-2013, 2015-2020

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

Back to top