Michele A. W. McKinnon Partner

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Michele serves as the chair of the firm’s nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations practice team. With more than 35 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 is the immediate Past Chair of ACTEC’s Charitable Planning & Exempt Organizations Committee. 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.