Admissions

  • Illinois
  • United States Tax Court
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois

Education

Trinity International University (B.A., cum laude, 1989)

Loyola University Chicago School of Law (J.D., 1995)

  • Loyola University Law Journal, member

Profile

Mary Kruit McWilliams is a partner at Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, and a member of the law firm’s Wealth and Succession Planning Group, Not-for-Profit and Planned Giving Group, and Religious Organizations Group.  Mary joined the firm in 2009 after fourteen years of practice at two international law firms headquartered in Chicago.

Mary specializes in family wealth preservation and philanthropy and is a trusted advisor and confidant for high-net-worth individuals, multigenerational families, corporate executives, and entrepreneurs. Mary also represents several charitable organizations, including large private foundations, donor advised funds, and public, operating charities.

Mary brings a unique blend of compassionate care, technical knowledge, and strategic advice to the estate planning process.  Mary helps families understand, in plain English, their options for preserving wealth in a way that accomplishes their goals and honors their underlying values.  Legacy planning involves more than updating wills and minimizing taxes. A meaningful estate plan comes from personal values and integrating life experiences and family dynamics within that plan.  Mary encourages and advises her clients to collaborate with family at appropriate life states to ensure that their wealth will have a positive impact during their lifetime and for many generations to come.  The result for the client is peace of mind knowing that there is a thoughtful plan in place for the future, emanating from personal values.

Generosity is one of Mary’s core values, and her clients reflect this in their generosity toward their families and the causes they care about.  This shared value is why, in addition to helping clients transfer their wealth to their families, Mary also focuses her law practice on helping clients in their philanthropic endeavors, from making simple outright gifts of appreciated stock to forming charitable trusts or establishing and running their own philanthropic entities.  Mary helps individuals and families structure their charitable giving to achieve both personal goals as well as beneficial tax treatment.  

Experience

  • Advises clients on a variety of family wealth preservation matters, including estate and gift planning; estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax issues; closely held businesses and succession planning; and privacy and asset protection
  • Guides individuals, multigenerational families, and fiduciaries through estate (probate), trust, and guardianship administration
  • Educates clients about charitable planning techniques and entities, establishing the philanthropic entity and advising on all administrative processes 
  • Forms and advises public charities (including donor advised funds), private operating foundations, and private grant-making foundations—counseling on all matters related to corporate formation, governance, and tax, including federal tax exemption, state registrations, private foundation excise taxes, and sales tax 
  • Specializes in the unique tools available for the protection of wealth owned or inherited by disabled individuals, including powers of attorney, special needs trusts, and guardianships 
  • Creates faith-specific, health care powers of attorney and testamentary documents that reflect religious and social values
  • Counsels stepparents through the court process of interfamily adoptions
  • Prior to joining Burke, Warren in 2009, Mary served ultra-high-net-worth clients for eleven years in the private client department of McDermott, Will & Emery LLP.  Mary began her legal career in 1995 at Mayer Brown & Platt as an income tax controversy attorney.

Professional/Community

  • Founding director, treasurer and secretary, National Christian Foundation Greater Chicago (local affiliate of nation’s largest Christian grant-making organization)
  • Past director and corporate secretary, Chicago Hope Inc., of Chicago, Illinois (food pantry and poverty assistance in Logan Square)
  • Women’s coordinator, Pinnacle Forum’s Emerging Leaders Initiative (mentorship program for next generation of leaders)
  • Member, Chicago Estate Planning Council
  • Member, Christian Legal Society
  • Certified Kingdom Advisor
  • Recipient, Commission on Chicago Landmarks Award for Preservation Excellence, 2006 (restoration of exterior façade of Queen Anne Victorian cottage in Chicago’s Oakland neighborhood) 

Pressroom

330 North Wabash Avenue, Suite 2100
Chicago, Illinois 60611-3607
T: 312.840.7000
F: 312.840.7900