Mr. Handler is an advanced planning attorney focused on the analysis and structuring of sophisticated estate plans and family offices, and handling taxation and business planning issues for business owners, executives, professional athletes, celebrities and family offices. He has extensive experience in the analysis, design and implementation of domestic and international business planning, financial and estate planning, asset protection, family office compliance and advanced tax planning strategies. Mr. Handler is a managing partner in Handler Thayer, LLP, where he chairs the firm’s Advanced Planning & Family Office Practice Group.
His experience includes public accounting and corporate and foundation directorships. He is involved in Chicago Bar Association activities including its Taxation and Trust Law committees, and has authored numerous professional articles. He has lectured extensively both nationally and internationally at wealth industry, professional and family office educational conferences. Mr. Handler created the Asset Protection Profile™ and Stealth Prenup™ in addition to other proprietary strategies for affluent families and family offices.
Mr. Handler has been named to the Wealth Strategies Design Team comprised of fifteen of the top wealth planners in the U.S., Who’s Who in American Law and Who’s Who in America. Illinois Leading Lawyers named Mr. Handler one of the Top Lawyers in the areas of Closely and Privately Held Business Law and Trust, Wills and Estate Planning Law. He was named again to the CityWealth Global Leaders List of Top 100 Lawyers in the U.S. in 2018 as well as awarded the title of Most Influential Advanced Planning Attorney of 2018 – Illinois by Acquisition International. In 2017, Mr. Handler received the Family Wealth Alliance Leadership Award for Lifetime Achievement and was again named to Leading Lawyers and Lawyers of Distinction. He was named 2017 Private Client Lawyer of the Year and in 2016 won the Excellence in Estate Planning Award. In 2015, he was named International Wealth Planner of the Year and Wealth Planning Gamechanger Lawyer of the Year in addition to receiving the Michael J. Brink Wealth Industry Leadership and Service Award.
He earned a Bachelor of Sciences in Accountancy degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Juris Doctor degree, Law Review, from DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Handler is a recognized thought leader in the advanced planning and family office marketplaces, who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Worth Magazine, Financial Times, Barron’s, Christian Science Monitor, Family Office Review, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Chicago Sun-Times, Structured Products Magazine, ABA Journal, National Law Journal, Crain’s Chicago Business, Derivatives Weekly, Family Wealth Report, Wealth Manager Magazine and other publications. He has appeared as an expert commentator on numerous radio and television programs.
Director, Editorial Advisory Board, Wealth Briefing Group/Family Wealth Report, 2018-present
Director, Advisory Board, The Family Office Advisor, 2018
Director, Advisory Board, Leading Lawyers, 2015-Present
Director, Advisory Board, Lido Consulting, Inc. family office conferences, 2012-2017
Director, Advisory Board, Financial Research Associates family office conferences, 2012-2016
Director, Trōv, Incorporated, 2012-2014
Director, Advisory Board, Family Office Association, 2011-Present
Chairman, Handler Thayer, LLP, Advanced Planning & Family Office Practice Group, 2009-Present
Director, Advisory Board, Opal Financial Group Family Office & Private Wealth Forum, 2009-Present
Director, Advisory Board, Lexington Family Office, 2008-Present
Director, Advisory Board, Family Wealth Alliance, 2003-Present
Director, Family Office Conference Advisory Board, IIR, 2002-2011
Director, BPS International, LLC, 1998-2008
Director, Ultra Stores, Incorporated, 1994-2009
• Member, Compensation Committee, 1995-2009
• Member, Audit Committee, 1995-2009
Director, The Mid-Day Club of Chicago, 1996-2007
• Secretary, 2002-2007
• Assistant Secretary, 1997-1998
• Member, Executive Committee, 1997-2007
• Vice Chairman, Membership Committee, 1996-1998
• Chairman, Membership Committee, 1998-2002
• Member, Finance Committee, 1996-1998
• Director, Associate Board, 1995-1996
Director, Professional Benefit Trust Advisory Board, 2003-2005
Director, Winnetka Tennis Association, 2000-2004
• Vice President, 2000-2001
• President, 2001-2002
Director, Business Planning Systems, LLC, 1996-2004
Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity International/Educational Foundation
• Chairman of the Board/International President, 1998-2000
• Director/International Vice President, 1994-1998, 2000-2002
• Director/National Vice President, 1978-1979
• National Rush Director, 1982-1994
• Director/President, Chicago Alumni Association, 1988-1989
• Advisory Board Member, U of C, Northwestern, and U of I Chapters
• Member, Educational Foundation Planned Gifts Committee, 1992-1996
• Director, University of Chicago Housing Corporation, 1992-1995
Director, Robert B. Huff Scholarship Foundation, 1990-1998
• Chairman, Celebrity Committee, 1990-1998
Director, Qualified Planning Resources, Inc., 1995-1997
Director, Aerospace International Companies, Inc., 1995-1996
Director/Advisory Board, Aon-Maryville NFL Players Alumni Association Charity Golf Tournament, 1990-1991
Director/Advisory Board, Winnetka Nielsen Tennis Center, 1990-1991
Honors & Awards
• Family Wealth Alliance – Leadership Award for Lifetime Achievement, 2017
• Citywealth Global Leaders List – Top 100 Lawyers in the U.S., 2013-Present
• U.S. Private Client Lawyer of the Year, 2017
• Excellence in Estate Planning award, 2016
• Family Office Review – Michael J. Brink Wealth Industry Leadership & Service Award, 2015
• Acquisition Finance Magazine – Wealth Planning Gamechanger Lawyer of the Year, 2015
• Acquisition Finance Magazine – International Wealth Planning Lawyer of the Year, 2015
• Leading Lawyers (IL) – Trust, Will and Estate Planning Law, 2010-Present
• Leading Lawyers (IL) – Closely & Privately Held Business Law, 2010-Present
• University of Illinois Scholarship Foundation Loyalty Circle Award, 2007
• Pi Kappa Alpha Chicago Alumni Association Loyalty Award, 2004
• Wealth Strategies Design Team (Comprised of fifteen of the top wealth planners in the United States), 2001-2007
• Who’s Who in the World, 2017
• Life Member, National Registry of Who’s Who in America, 2001-Present
• Who’s Who in Executives and Professionals in America, 1996-97, 1997-98
• Who’s Who in American Law, 1989-1991
• Who’s Who of Emerging Leaders of America, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992
• Distinguished Leadership Award, 1988
• Men of Achievement, 1988
• Who’s Who in the Midwest, 1987 and 1989
• Outstanding Young Men of America, 1985 and 1986
• University of Illinois Outstanding Senior Award, 1979
• Shorter Board Scholastic and Leadership Honorary, 1978
• 100 Club Scholastic and Leadership Honorary, 1978
• Pi Kappa Alpha Outstanding Service Award, 1978
• Sigma Iota Lambda Scholastic Honorary, 1977
• Phi Eta Sigma Scholastic Honorary, 1975
Family Offices: The STEP Handbook for Advisers, Second Edition, Family Office chapter
Thomas J. Handler and Barbara R. Hauser. “Why Family Offices Choose Bermuda” 2019.
Thomas J. Handler. “Family Office Real Estate Compliance and Opportunities,” Family Office Real Estate Magazine, June (2018).
Thomas J. Handler. “Handler Thayer, LLP 2018 Family Office Outlook,” Quarter 1, 2018, www.prnewswire.com. February 27, 2018.
Thomas J. Handler, 21st Century Family Office Structures, Family Office Association White Paper, July (2017).
Thomas J. Handler. “Handler Thayer, LLP 2017 Family Office Outlook,” Quarter 1, 2017, www.prnewswire.com and www.jdsupra.com. March 22, 2017. Republished in Chinese in the China Daily Business Herald and in the Family Wealth Alliance Letter.
Thomas J. Handler, Virtual family offices – a global trend, The Int’l Family Offices J., 5 (December 2016).
Thomas J. Handler. “2015 Family Office Outlook,” www.JDSupra.com. March 12, 2015.
Thomas J. Handler. “Establishing Virtual Family Offices,” Trusts & Estates Magazine. March (2014).
Thomas J. Handler, Contributor. “Breakthroughs In Managing Tangible Assets: Completing The Picture Of Wealth.” Ace Private Risk Services and Trōv White Paper. February (2014).
Thomas J. Handler. “Do Your Research, and Be Stealthy” featured in the New York Times Forum on Prenuptial Agreements. The New York Times. March 21, 2013.
Thomas J. Handler and Christine E. McKillip. “CFTC Reinstates Family Office Exception.” www.JDSupra.com. December 5, 2012. This article was republished by Family Office Association on December 12, 2012 and republished by Family Office News on December 14, 2012.
Thomas J. Handler. “The Dodd-Frank Act: Implications for Family Offices.” 2012 Institute for Private Investors Report (2012).
Thomas J. Handler and Christine E. McKillip. “The Commodity Futures Trading Commission Rescinds a Common Family Office Exemption.”www.JDSupra.com. May 17, 2012.
Thomas J. Handler. “Financial Regulation of Family Offices in the Current Environment,” Family Office Association, January (2012).
Thomas J. Handler. S.E.C. Registration of Family Offices: Private Trust Companies May Provide One Avenue of Relief. Trusts & Estates Magazine, October (2011) (Republished by Family Offices Group).
Thomas J. Handler. Family Office Exemption Narrowly Defined by S.E.C.. Family Office Association SFO Letter, July (2011).
Thomas J. Handler. The Family Office Exception: Greater Clarity Could Force Greater Compliance. Family Wealth Report, June (2011).
Thomas J. Handler, Contributor. The Domestic Staffing Cycle: From Hiring to Firing. Hub International Personal Insurance. (2009).
Handler and Heller, “Asset Protection Planning,” Private Wealth (2005).
Handler and Heller, “Key Elements in Asset Protection Planning,” Institute for International Research Family Office Letter, February (2004).
Handler and Thornhill, “Welfare Benefit Plans: Current Trends and Legislative Proposals,” SF59, ALI-ABA, 255, Uses of Insurance in Estate and Tax Planning Course Book (2001).
Thomas J. Handler. “Family Limited Partnerships Continue to Increase in Popularity,” Wealth Enhancement and Preservation Letter, First Quarter (2000).
Thomas J. Handler.“Charitable Remainder Trusts,”Horizons Letter, Winter (1998).
Thomas J. Handler. “Welfare Benefit Plans – What You Need To Know,” Life and Health Insurance Sales (1997).
Thomas J. Handler. “Retention of Tax Records,”Horizons Letter, Winter (1996).
Thomas J. Handler. “Multiple Employer Welfare Benefit Plans Require Planning and Risk Evaluation,” Journal of Taxation of Employee Benefits, July/August (1995).
Thomas J. Handler. “Multiple Employer Welfare Benefit Plans Have Advantages for Employees and Executives,” Journal of Taxation of Employee Benefits, May/June (1995).
Thomas J. Handler. “Family Limited Partnerships,” Horizons Letter, Spring (1995).
Thomas J. Handler, Editor, “Legal & Tax Trends,” Newsletter, Handler Thayer, LLP, (1988 to present).
Thomas J. Handler. “Can You Find a Break in the New Tax Cloud?”Horizons Letter, Winter (1994).
Thomas J. Handler. “Samuel K. Skinner Accepts The Challenge as President Bush’s White House Chief Of Staff,” Shield & Diamond Magazine, Volume 103, Number 2 (1992).
Thomas J. Handler. “More Cash in Your Pocket,” Horizons Letter, Winter (1992).
Thomas J. Handler, Contributing Editor, “Minding Your Own Business,” Financial Lifestyles Publishing (1991), (Financial & Estate Planning Adjunct Book).
Thomas J. Handler. “At the Helm of the Department of Transportation, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Samuel K. Skinner,” Shield & Diamond Magazine, Volume 100, Number 4 (1989).
Thomas J. Handler. “Legal & Tax Trends.” Professional periodical newsletter dealing with Tax, Business, and Financial & Estate Planning topics, Handler & Associates, Ltd., (1983 to 1988).
Thomas J. Handler. “The Financial Report.” Professional periodical newsletter dealing with Tax, Investment, and Financial & Estate Planning topics, Handler & Associates, Ltd., (1980-1984).
Broida and Handler, “Interference with Contract and Prospective Advantage in Illinois,” 32 DePaul Law Review 325 (1983).
Member, The University Club of Chicago, 2008-Present
Member, The Clayton Club, 2017-Present
Member, Asset Protection Society, 2006-Present
Member, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Chicago Philanthropy Committee, 2005-Present
Member, International Business Forums Chicago Chapter, 2002-2012
Captain, Winnetka Tennis Team, 2001-Present
Member, Winnetka Tennis Association, 1987-Present
Member, Chicago Bar Association
• Member, CBA Trust Law Committee
• Chairman, Subcommittee on Private Foundations, 2001-2002
• Chairman, Subcommittee on Family Limited Partnerships, 2003-2004
• Chairman, Subcommittee on FLP Administration, 2006-2007
• Member, CBA Federal Taxation Committee
Member, Illinois State Bar Association
• Member, Section on Corporation and Securities Law
• Member, Section on Federal Taxation
• Member, Section on Trusts & Estates
Member, American Bar Association
• Member, ABA Section of Taxation
Member, Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity
Member, Society of Financial Service Professionals, 2006-2007
Member, North American Interfraternity Conference
• Nominating Committee, 2004-2006
• Committee on Public Relations and Marketing, 1999-2002
Member, Financial Planning Association, 2001-2003
Member, Sierra Club Lawyers’ Roundtable, 1992-1994