Karen MacKay is the senior member of the Wealth & Succession Planning Group of Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, P.C. Karen’s practice focuses on estate and gift tax issues and family wealth transfer planning, with a particular emphasis on estate planning for closely held business owners. She has substantial experience in assisting business owners with succession issues and equity transfers, including family partnerships, corporate recapitalizations, and related strategies. Her practice encompasses all aspects of estate planning, trust litigation, administration of decedents’ estates, and charitable giving techniques.

Karen has written extensively and made numerous presentations on subjects including estate planning, trust administration, charitable giving, succession planning, ownership transition, trust and estate litigation, and risk management. She is the author of several courses on estate planning topics for the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education, and has been a frequent speaker for the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education, the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois CPA Society and Illinois CPA Foundation, the University of Notre Dame Tax & Estate Planning Institute, and other professional groups. Karen is a past president of the Chicago Estate Planning Council and is a past chair of the Chicago Bar Association’s Trust Law Committee. She is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and is a faculty member of the American Bankers Association National Graduate Trust School.

Karen received her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1971 and her undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from Smith College, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Karen received the Chicago Estate Planning Council’s top honor, the Austin Fleming Distinguished Service Award, in 2004. Karen was recently included in the "Best Lawyers in America" section for trusts & estates featured in The American Lawyer.  Karen has been listed among the "Top 100 Lawyers in Illinois" and "Top 50 Women Lawyers in Illinois" in Super Lawyers.  Karen was also named one of Illinois’ "Top 100 Women Lawyers" and "Top 100 Consumer Lawyers" in 2008 according to the Leading Lawyers Network Magazine.  Karen also has been included in the U.S. News & World Report's "Best Lawyers" list for trusts and estates.


Contact Information

Bar Admissions

Illinois, 1971


  • Smith College (B.A., magna cum laude, 1966; Phi Beta Kappa)
  • University of Michigan Law School (J.D., 1971)

Professional and Civic Involvement

Member, Chicago Bar Association (Chair, Trust Law Committee, 1987-88) Member, American Bar Association Member, Chicago Estate Planning Council (Director, 1990-1997; President, 1995-1996; Member, Board of Directors, 1996-1998) Fellow, American College of Trust and Estate Counsel; Member, The Chicago Network

Professional Recognition