Gordon F. Litt

Partner

Columbus
T +1.614.462.2693
F +1.614.462.2616

Overview

Gordon Litt routinely represents high-net-worth individuals, families, family offices and privately held businesses on a variety of sensitive and complex estate and business planning matters. In providing holistic and confidential counsel to privately held businesses, business owners and families, he works cooperatively with their other financial advisers in designing comprehensive yet practical and understandable business succession plans, tax strategies and estate plans. Gordon is especially skilled at finding solutions designed to address the often complex business and family goals and dynamics involved with privately owned companies. He also represents individuals and executives in connection with all aspects of personal estate planning and related estate, gift and generation-skipping tax planning, as well as charitable giving. In addition, Gordon routinely advises clients on a broad range of business and tax planning matters involving the structure, formation, operation, reorganization and disposition of S corporations, C corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships and ESOPs in a variety of industries. Gordon is a trusted adviser and counselor to clients, providing them with the information they need to make informed decisions in a tax-efficient manner.

Gordon is listed in The Best Lawyers in America© in the areas of tax law and trusts and estates. He was named the 2016 Columbus “Lawyer of the Year” in Tax Law and the 2017 Columbus “Lawyer of the Year” in Trusts & Estates by The Best Lawyers in America©. Gordon is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive) with experience in the tax and audit areas of the international accounting firm Ernst & Whinney (predecessor to EY).

Select Experience

  • Designed numerous estate and business succession plans for closely held business owners involving business interests valued in excess of $100 million, utilizing tax-efficient planning arrangements, including grantor-retained annuity trusts, sales to grantor trusts, various life insurance plans, private annuity sales, defined value clauses, qualified personal residence trusts, “family partnerships,” generation-skipping trusts and other appropriate arrangements.
  • Structured buy-sell agreements, close corporation agreements, voting trusts and various corporate governance arrangements among family members and nonfamily members to facilitate business planning goals and to coordinate business succession planning with personal estate planning of the business owners.
  • Assisted in the creation and management of “family councils” as a way to engage all family members, whether or not they were involved in the family business.
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Experience

  • Designed numerous estate and business succession plans for closely held business owners involving business interests valued in excess of $100 million, utilizing tax-efficient planning arrangements, including grantor-retained annuity trusts, sales to grantor trusts, various life insurance plans, private annuity sales, defined value clauses, qualified personal residence trusts, “family partnerships,” generation-skipping trusts and other appropriate arrangements.
  • Structured buy-sell agreements, close corporation agreements, voting trusts and various corporate governance arrangements among family members and nonfamily members to facilitate business planning goals and to coordinate business succession planning with personal estate planning of the business owners.
  • Assisted in the creation and management of “family councils” as a way to engage all family members, whether or not they were involved in the family business.
  • Represented trustees of multigenerational trusts with respect to fiduciary and investment issues, including the use of private settlement agreements to achieve certain family goals, and the formation and subsequent restructuring of family LLCs designed to coordinate investment management among various family trusts.
  • Represented individuals with respect to their charitable giving, including working with community foundations, creating private foundations, establishing charitable remainder trusts to enhance income tax planning and establishing charitable lead trusts to enhance transfer tax planning.
  • Formed and negotiated complex LLC entity structures for real estate developers designed to facilitate equity financings, and represented real estate developers with respect to tax issues related to acquisition and disposition of real estate projects.
  • Designed ownership and operational structures to facilitate the investment in and development of certain intellectual property assets.
  • Represented landowners with respect to “conservation easement” arrangements designed to achieve income tax, gift/estate tax valuation and general land preservation goals. The conservation easements have included open space easements, riparian corridor easements, agricultural easements and working forest easements, some of which took advantage of various governmental funding sources. Also has coordinated the sale of easements with a “tax-free exchange” thereby allowing the landowner to increase land holdings in a tax-efficient manner.
  • Counseled families with respect to planning for the retention and cooperative family use of historic family vacation properties.
  • Represented a fiduciary with respect to the administration of an estate holding numerous oil and gas mineral interests and related oil and gas business entities.
  • Successfully represented clients in gift and estate tax audits through the IRS appeals process.
  • Recovered attorneys’ fees from the IRS after successfully litigating a “100 percent penalty” case and proving that the position taken by the IRS was unreasonable. See, Anderson v. U.S., 1991 WL 253005.

Recognitions and Memberships

Recognitions

  • Chambers High Net Worth: Private Wealth Law in Ohio (2016, 2017)
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (2003 to 2018)
    • Columbus: Tax Law
      • Best Lawyers® 2016 "Lawyer of the Year"
    • Columbus: Trusts and Estates
      • Best Lawyers® 2017 "Lawyer of the Year"
  • Martindale-Hubbell: AV Preeminent
  • Ohio "Super Lawyer" (2004 to 2012, 2015 to 2017)

Memberships

  • American College of Trust and Estate Counsel
    • Business Planning Committee (2008 to 2013)
  • American Bar Association
    • Section of Real Property, Probate and Trust Law
  • Ohio State Bar Association
  • Columbus Bar Association
    • Business Tax Committee: Member and past Chair
    • Estate and Gift Tax Committee
  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
  • Muskingum University Distinguished Service Award (2015)

Community

  • Muskingum University: Trustee (1997 to present)
    • Audit Committee
    • Development Committee
  • Ohio Appalachian Business Council (JobsOhio entity serving 25 counties in southeast Ohio): Founding and current Board member (2011 to present)
  • International Center for the Preservation of Wild Animals (the "Wilds"): Trustee (1997 to 2016)
  • Foundation for Appalachian Ohio: Trustee (2011 to 2013)
  • Muskingum University Alumni Association (1996 to 2012)
    • President (1997 to 2012) 
  • Co-chair of successful bond issue campaign raising in excess of $50 million for the construction of four new school buildings in the Fairfield Union School District (2004)
  • Gov. George Voinovich's Farmland Preservation Task Force
    • Voluntary Incentives Committee (1996 to 1997)
  • Muskingum College Roundball Club
  • Belted Galloway Society

Prior Positions

  • Bricker & Eckler LLP: Partner (1985 to 2014)
  • Ernst & Whinney (1980 to 1982)

Admissions

  • U.S. Tax Court
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio
  • Ohio

Education

  • J.D., The Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law, 1985, with honors; The Ohio State Law Journal, Board of Editors; Order of the Coif
  • B.A., Muskingum College, 1980, summa cum laude