Michael R. Stiff

Partner

Denver
T +1.303.764.4047
F +1.303.861.7805

Overview

Mike Stiff focuses his practice on estate planning, probate, trust administration and business planning. Clients value his ability to digest large amounts of complex information and to explain the key points in simple terms.

Mike is co-author of Chapter 42 of the Colorado Estate Planning Handbook on the Special Valuation Rules of Sections 2701-2704 of the Internal Revenue Code and is a frequent speaker on estate planning topics at continuing legal and professional education programs for attorneys and CPAs. 

Select Experience

  • Mike has assisted principals of oil and gas companies, private equity firms, and hedge funds in planning for their carried interests and in the gifting of such carried interests to multigenerational trusts for the benefit and protection of future generations. 
  • Mike assisted a client with gifting to multigenerational trusts and GRATs for the benefit of his spouse and descendants prior to the sale of the client's company. Due to such planning and a successful sale, the client achieved his objective of transferring a targeted amount of wealth to his family, and now is able to leave the remainder of his estate to a family foundation and chosen charities. 
  • Mike assists non-U.S. citizens (resident or nonresident aliens) with estate planning for their domestic and foreign situs assets. Assisted a German citizen (nonresident alien) in establishing a multigenerational trust for family members located in the U.S., which avoided U.S. gift tax, estate tax and generation-skipping transfer tax for the donor and future generations.
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Experience

  • Mike has assisted principals of oil and gas companies, private equity firms, and hedge funds in planning for their carried interests and in the gifting of such carried interests to multigenerational trusts for the benefit and protection of future generations. 
  • Mike assisted a client with gifting to multigenerational trusts and GRATs for the benefit of his spouse and descendants prior to the sale of the client's company. Due to such planning and a successful sale, the client achieved his objective of transferring a targeted amount of wealth to his family, and now is able to leave the remainder of his estate to a family foundation and chosen charities. 
  • Mike assists non-U.S. citizens (resident or nonresident aliens) with estate planning for their domestic and foreign situs assets. Assisted a German citizen (nonresident alien) in establishing a multigenerational trust for family members located in the U.S., which avoided U.S. gift tax, estate tax and generation-skipping transfer tax for the donor and future generations.
  • Mike regularly assists Canadian citizens located in the U.S., including business owners and numerous professional hockey players, in developing comprehensive estate plans to address cross-border issues and to provide for tax-efficient and orderly distribution of assets during their lifetime and after their death. 
  • Mike assists clients and insurance professionals in planning for large or complex life insurance policies, including implementation of new split-dollar agreements and review, amendment or exiting of existing split-dollar agreements. After issuance of the new split-dollar regulations by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 2003, represented a client in the first local audit by the national office of the IRS which involved a large split-dollar agreement, resulting in "no change" by the IRS.
  • Mike assists clients with judicial and nonjudicial methods of reforming or modifying existing trusts, including decanting in multiple jurisdictions. Assisted a family in transferring and consolidating numerous multigenerational trusts in several different states, which involved judicial modification, court approval and decanting, to achieve the family's desire for a simpler, more cohesive estate plan. 
  • Assisted a family with transferring a $100 million business to younger family members, without any gift or estate tax, while providing control and support to those family members involved in the company, and ensuring equitable division and a continuing stream of income for those family members not involved in the company. 
  • Mike assists individual and corporate fiduciaries in administration of large and complex estates or trusts, including the filing of federal gift and estate tax returns, protective elections, and related tax filings. Also assists such fiduciaries and the affected beneficiaries in avoiding or settling disputes during administration. Developed creative settlements in two separate decedents' estates involving very large ranches among contentious and litigious parties.

Recognitions and Memberships

Recognitions

  • Chambers HNW: Private Wealth Law in Colorado (2017)
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (2010 to 2018)
    • Denver: Trusts and Estates
  • 5280 Magazine: Top Colorado Lawyer, Trusts and Estates (2016)
  • Martindale-Hubbell: AV Preeminent
  • Colorado "Super Lawyer" (2010 to 2017)
    • Colorado Super Lawyers "Rising Star" (2009)

Memberships

  • Colorado Bar Association
    • Trust & Estate Section: Past President
      • Statutory Revisions Committee: Past Chair
      • Rules and Forms Committee: Past Chair
  • Denver Bar Association
  • Rocky Mountain Estate Planning Council
  • American College of Trust and Estate Counsel: Fellow
    • Colorado Membership Committee
  • MENSA

Community

  • Arthritis Foundation, Great West Region: Board Member

Admissions

  • Colorado, 1995

Education

  • J.D., The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, 1995
  • B.S., Nebraska Wesleyan University, 1992