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Michael C. Zahrt

Associate
1700 East Beltline, N.E.
Suite 200
Grand Rapids, MI 49525-7044
T 616.726.2223
F 616.726.2299

Overview

Mike is a business lawyer who helps businesses start up, grow, overcome challenges and seize opportunities. Mike works with clients to prioritize their goals and works with others within the firm to provide a solution custom-tailored to achieve those goals. He understands his clients are best served by counsel who addresses legal issues and also helps further business objectives. One without the other is of little utility in today’s lightning fast marketplace.

Mike grew up in a family of entrepreneurs in an agricultural community. Through his upbringing, he learned the qualities that businesses and business owners value in an advisor and therefore strives to provide high levels excellence, efficiency and responsiveness during each engagement.

He practices in the firm's Grand Rapids and Lansing offices working on the following areas:

  • Business Formations and Transactions. Mike assists individuals and business throughout numerous industries in a variety of matters, including entity selection and formation; drafting shareholder and operating agreements; taxable and tax-free purchases and sales of businesses; and detailed analysis of corporate, individual and partnership tax issues.
  • Business and Farm Succession Planning. He identifies tax efficient exit strategies for the owners of a wide variety of businesses to achieve their goals, including the sale of a successful business to fund the owner's retirement or charitable goals and passing a family-owned business on to the next generation. Mike is also familiar with the particular needs and goals of family-owned farming operations.
  • Employee Benefits. Mike assists clients regarding the implementation and administration of qualified employee benefit plans. This includes performing coverage and discrimination testing, implementing voluntary correction programs where necessary as well as analyzing issues related to fiduciary duties and prohibited transactions. Mike also specializes in the administration of Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), including issues related to plan implementation and management of an employers’ repurchase obligation.
  • Estate Planning. Mike assists on a wide variety of estate planning matters – from drafting wills and revocable trusts to complex planning strategies to reduce or eliminate federal gift and estate taxes. He also uses business succession strategies to accomplish the estate planning goals of the client.
  • Private Foundations and Tax-Exempt Organizations. Mike helps clients determine which tax exempt organization best fits their needs, including private foundations, supporting organizations and private operating foundations. He also assists private foundations in avoiding or resolving a variety of prohibited transactions, including issues of self-dealing, excess business holdings and jeopardy investments.
  • Agri-Business. Mike works on a variety of agricultural and cooperative law matters. This includes assisting with cooperative formation and governance, compliance with the Capper-Volstead Act, contract drafting and review, entity selection and governance for farm operations and detailed analysis of state and federal tax issues.

Mike received his undergraduate degree from Calvin College and his Juris Doctorate from the Michigan State University College of Law. He graduated summa cum laude and was a Dean King Honors Scholar. Mike attended Michigan State on a full tuition scholarship and was an active member of the MSU Law Review for two years.

Experience

Representative Matters

  • Drafting a variety of transactional documents, including the purchase of business assets valued at $500,000, a stock purchase of more than $350,000 and the purchase of commercial real property.
  • Developing administrative procedures and spending requirements to achieve charitable goals while complying with applicable laws, including the establishment of a scholarship program, a Christian private operating foundation to perform missionary work, and a supporting organization for the benefit of local area Christian organizations. 
  • Reviewing the organizational documents of for-profit and non-profit organizations for discrepancies or inconsistencies, revising the documents as necessary to ensure they reflect the client's goals and comply with state and federal law.
  • Assisting in the creation of a business succession plan for the owner of a family business that transferred ownership of a company to children involved in the business while also providing income to the owner's spouse and non-business children and eliminating an estimated estate tax liability of over $175,000.
  • Assisting in the creation of a farm succession plan for an operation with assets exceeding $10 million, including the selection and creation of business entities to hold and transfer farm assets.  The succession plan gradually transferred responsibilities to the next generation while also providing a reliable source of income for the older generation and off-farm children.
  • Assisting in the estate plan of an individual with a net worth of more than $11 million, utilizing gifting strategies and an irrevocable life insurance trust to accomplish the client's estate planning goals while eliminating potential estate tax liability.

Communications

Publications

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News & Events

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Education

Michigan State University College of Law, J.D., 2014, summa cum laude

Calvin College, B.A., 2010

Bar and Court Admissions

Michigan

Tax Planning for Family Businesses
Record Retention