Carleen focuses her practice on estate tax and income tax planning, working with both U.S. and international clients. She works extensively with families on multiple strategies for wealth transfer while minimizing taxes. She is experienced in the formation and operation of private trust companies to administer trusts for a client’s family and is an officer of two such companies. She advises on charitable planning, including private foundations, charitable trusts and donor advised funds.

    Carleen also handles tax controversies, including estate gift tax and income tax audits and litigation. Carleen works with many clients, particularly in the real estate area, to structure loans, investments and sales or exchanges in order to maximize the deductibility of available losses and defer income taxation as appropriate. She represents family owned businesses and helps them with succession planning, governance and implementation of techniques to minimize gift and estate tax on transferring interests to the next generation.

    Carleen is recognized as a Leading Lawyer in Tax Law as well as Trust, Will and Estate Planning Law by the Illinois Leading Lawyers Network.  In addition to her legal work, Carleen has been recognized by her peers for her community achievements. She was a recipient of the Chicago Bar Foundation’s Maurice Weigle Award as an Outstanding Young Lawyer in Chicago. She has been recognized by Illinois Super Lawyer® in Estate Planning and Probate. Carleen is active in several social service and support organizations which has included leadership positions with the Chicago Foundation for Women, Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers and Chicago Abused Women Coalition.


    • J.D., University of Chicago, 1982
    • B.A., Lake Forest College, 1979
      – Phi Beta Kappa


    • Illinois, 1982
    • U.S. Tax Court
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, 2005

    “Turning the PTC Idea into an Operating Trust Company” presented at the Family Office Exchange (FOX) Private Trust Company Fundamentals Workshop held in New Orleans, LA February 2019

    “Charitable Giving After the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Who’s Right and How to Cope?” at the Chicago Council on Planned Giving Symposium May 2018

    “Turning the PFTC Idea Into an Operating Trust Company” and moderated panel discussion on “PFTCs at Risk: A Call to Maintain Standards” for the Family Office Exchange (FOX) Private Trust Company Workshop held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, February 2018

    “Turning the PFTC Idea into an Operating Trust Company” at the Family Office Exchange (FOX) Private Trust Company Workshop and Symposium held in Miami Beach, Florida, February 2016

    “In the Driver’s Seat and Under the Hood – Creating and Operating a Private Family Trust Company” at the Family Office Exchange (FOX) Private Trust Company Symposium held in Chicago, September 2014

    “Illinois Law on Apportionment of Estate Taxes” presented for the Chicago Bar Association Trust Law Committee, May 2010

    “What Donors Should Know Before They Make the Charitable Gift,” webcast presented for the Celesq AttorneysEd Center, September 2009

    “Illinois Estate Tax Apportionment Issues” presented for members of the Probate Practice Committee of the Chicago Bar Association, November 2007

    “Income Tax Planning,” presented for the Academy of American Matrimonial Lawyers, November 2004

    “Charitable Giving,” sponsored by the Merit School of Music, September 2004

    “Extreme Estate Plan Makeovers: How to Make the Most of Badly Drafted Documents,” presented to attendees of the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education (IICLE) Annual Estate Planning Short Course, May 2004


    “The IRS Issues Guidance on Private Trust Companies,” Estate Planning, January 2009

    “Even More Uncertainty About Estate-Tax Apportionment,” Illinois Bar Journal, June 2007

    Co-Author of a chapter, “Planning for Exempt Assets” in the 2007 edition of Asset Protection Planning, published by the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE), 2007


    • American Bar Association
    • Chicago Bar Association
    • Chicago Estate Planning Council
    • Chicago Finance Exchange


    • Chicago Foundation for Women – Member, Alumnae Council; Former Member, Board of Directors
    • Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers – Former Member, Board of Directors
    • Chicago Abused Women Coalition – Past President
    • Lake Forest College – Former Member, Planned Giving Committee
    • Environmental Law & Policy Center – Board of Directors