“I can give people peace of mind that their friends and family will be taken care of.”
Individuals and businesses share an important goal: optimizing and protecting their financial well-being. Professional guidance is often needed to navigate the complicated tax and regulatory environments faced by both individuals and companies. With her breadth and depth of experience, community and professional involvement, and years of helping people solve the legal problems that matter most to them; Christine offers her clients the peace of mind they’re seeking, putting them on the right path to achieving their goals. From estate planning and asset preservation, to incorporating a not-for-profit business and keeping a health care practice in compliance, Christine handles a wide range of personal and business issues on behalf of her clients.
Having served as both legal counsel and on the boards of directors of many local not-for-profit organizations, Christine has an insider’s understanding of how they work, giving her NFP clients an exceptional resource to help navigate their unique governance, tax and compensation issues.
Whether it’s giving advice on organizational matters to a start-up NFP or advice on complicated tax issues to a major foundation, Christine provides highly experienced counsel in a number of important areas, including:
- Formation, costs, and structure, including attaining IRS 501(c)3 status
- Exempt organization tax and audit issues
- Structuring of gifts to charity
- Tax compliance
- Board of directors issues and best practices
Individuals seeking reassurance that their assets will be preserved for their children and grandchildren and that their survivors will not have to worry about the legal hassles that managing an estate or trust involves, will benefit from Christine’s estate planning practice. Young people, especially those with families or who are named as executors of a will, or trustee of a trust often have questions and concerns about what is involved and urgently need answers if faced with the sudden death of a spouse, or difficult health and medical issues of a family member.
Christine enjoys helping her clients become educated about long-term care planning, protecting their assets, and giving them the confidence to handle these issues. She’s widely experienced in the legal aspects of estate and trust matters and, after years of experience, understands the role that family dynamics plays in all planning. From the initial discussions to document preparation, Christine works closely with clients to ensure that their families are taken care of, helping with:
- Wills and trusts that include provisions for tax and family management issues
- Beneficiary changes and account transfers
- Document drafting
- Gift and estate taxes
People concerned with the complicated issues facing their older relatives, especially caring for them and helping them hold on to their assets, can be helped by Christine’s work in the area of elder law. She represents elderly and disabled persons in a variety of critical areas, including Medicaid planning, supplemental needs trusts and asset protection, and also helps the persons who are responsible for managing a loved one’s care. Christine also prepares living wills, health care proxies and powers of attorney.
The rapidly changing healthcare legal landscape is causing concern among practitioners and hospitals, as well as a spike in mergers and acquisitions, and Christine can provide much-needed guidance in the area of health law and professional practices. With over a decade serving as general counsel for a hospital and its foundation and over 15 years representing medical practices, Christine has in-depth, firsthand knowledge of the problems healthcare professionals encounter, and helps physicians and hospitals with matters such as regulatory compliance, governance, mergers, licensure and risk management.
Whether your not-for-profit is well established or you would like to create a new one, your organization needs reliable counsel who is deeply knowledgeable on the operations, finances, and governance of NFPs.
Christine’s experience and legal insight with NFPs represent the best of both worlds. With her background as a board member and audit committee member on several NFPs, and service as counsel to many local foundations and not for profits, she offers you an insider’s knowledge of how NFPs work. She knows that every NFP is different, and can discuss how other organizations have managed within their own culture, set goals and objectives, and to serve their particular mission. As someone who understands NFPs from the perspective of everyone from the board chair to the staff and even donors, she has an appreciation for what NFP executives have to contend with and has a unique handle on how to resolve operational and interpersonal issues. She will share with you her knowledge of how to raise money; reduce administrative overhead; satisfy donors; and avoid difficulties with the I.R.S. and NY Attorney General.
As an attorney, Christine will advise your fledgling NFP on what is involved in starting one up, including:
- how to create a not-for-profit corporation
- how much it costs
- applying to New York State and the I.R.S.
- putting your organizational structure in place
For your established NFP, Christine’s wide-ranging experience give her the insight to counsel you on basic operational matters and many of the more subtle yet often complex issues that are often overlooked, such as:
- how to partner with other NFPs
- staying true to your mission
- setting executive compensation
- structuring business relationships to accomplish charitable goals
- structuring gift planning, including drafting endowments, donor-advised fund, charitable remainder trusts and other vehicles
Trust and Estate Planning
Christine comes from a large family, which is one of the reasons she has chosen to focus on helping families achieve financial security through proper planning. In fact, Christine is adamant about doing more than becoming only your estate planning attorney: she’s passionate about teaching you how to optimize your planning, how to develop an intelligent plan for your future, protect your assets, and have the peace of mind that comes with putting your affairs in order—for yourself and your loved ones. She does not want to see anyone get caught unprepared by unexpected events.
Because she understands the family dynamics that can come into play when planning an estate, Christine is interested in the complete picture of what motivates and interests you so that she can work with you to find the right path to meet your goals.
If you would like to sit down with Christine to begin the planning process, she would be happy to discuss your expectations, wishes, and vision for your estate in order to protect the ones you love. The total of your assets doesn’t matter; protecting them does. She’ll help you with:
- anticipating future issues that you might not have considered
- drafting the appropriate documents, including wills, trusts, deed and account transfers and beneficiary designations
- the transfer and funding of trusts
- the transfer of assets to your children and grandchildren
- naming a guardian, executor, and trustee and the roles each play
- planning how to care for your elders in their later years
Christine stresses one point above all else: It is imperative that you secure legal representation to get the appropriate documents in order, so that your loved ones are able to can handle your affairs as you intend.
Without the right documents in place, your family members may face great difficulty.
At some point in our lives, many of us will care for an elderly or disabled parent. Often, people put off planning for this part of their lives, and do not realize the burden it can become for their children or spouse.
To help you prepare for this eventuality, Christine will work with you to bring order to your estate or your parents’ estate, helping with:
- asset protection
- planning for long term care
- supplemental needs trusts
- Medicaid planning and guardianship
- living wills, healthcare proxies and powers of attorney
- revocable and irrevocable trusts
With your affairs and your family members’ legal affairs in place, you and they will breathe easier.
Health Law and Professional Practices
Whether you are a physician or a hospital executive, you are clear on one thing: the healthcare environment is getting trickier. Many physician practices and hospitals are seeking alternative working relationships and financial arrangements to reduce costs and stay compliant, while following the developments in the area of health reform.
With her background in serving healthcare providers, Christine understands the complexity of health care problems, as well as the challenges physicians and executives. She can help your practice or hospital with:
- federal and state health care regulatory compliance
- the incorporation and corporate structure of medical practices
- formation, merger or sale of your practice group
- professional licensure issues and risk management
- Served as counsel to Metropolitan Development Association of Syracuse and Central New York, Inc. and the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, Inc. in the structuring and creation of CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity; secured CenterState’s federal tax status; reviewed existing grants and contracts and related entities
- Served as Counsel to Board of Directors of not for profit organization with a focus on venture philanthropy; guided Directors with regard to organizational structure, compliance with New York and Federal Tax Laws; focused on development of strategic partnerships and compliance with private inurement and excess benefit transaction rules in setting executive compensation
- Negotiated and represented second generation family business owner with regard to acquisition, structure and buy out of first generation business
- Served as Counsel to not for profit organization with regard to the creation and management of subsidiary and supporting organization and relationship and between the two entities
Affiliations and Acknowledgements
- Awarded the designation of Accredited Estate Planner (AEP) by the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils
- New York State Bar Association, Co-Chair, Charitable Organizations Committee, Trusts & Estates Section, Executive Committee Member
- New York State Bar Association, Trusts & Estates, Health Law and Elder Law Sections, Executive Committee Member, Past Audit Committee Member
- Onondaga County Bar Association, Surrogates Court Committee
- Central New York Women’s Bar Association
- Estate Planning Council of Central New York, Attorney Member
- Super Lawyers, Upstate New York State Edition 2014-2019; 2021-2022
- Best Lawyers in America (2016-2022) – Non-Profit/Charities Law, Trusts and Estates
- “Lawyer of the Year” Award 2023 – Best Lawyers of America
Christine has served as Past Chair of the Central New York Community Foundation and currently serves on its Audit Committee and as Chair of its Professional Advisors Council. Christine serves on the Boards of Loretto Management Corporation and Manlius Pebble Hill School. She is a member of the New York State Bar Association’s Audit Committee and serves as Co-Chair of the Charitable Organizations Committee of the Association’s Trusts & Estates Section. Christine is a frequent lecturer on issues pertaining to tax exempt organizations, trusts and estates and charitable planning.
Other community activities and volunteer services include:
- Syracuse Stage, Past Member, Board of Directors
- Literacy Volunteers of Greater Syracuse, Past Member, Board of Directors
- Auburn Public Theater, Past Member, Board of Directors
- Central New York Community Foundation, Past Chair of the Board of Directors Audit Committee Member and Co-Chair of the Professional Advisors Council
- Manlius Pebble Hill School, Member, Board of Trustees; Past Planned Giving Committee Member and Past Alumnae Board Member
- Loretto Management Corporation (Loretto) Board of Directors
- Leadership Greater Syracuse, Graduate, Class of 2003
- Central New York Business Journal “40 Under 40” Award Recipient, 2006
- Friends of Jowonio, Past Board of Directors
- Central New York Chapter of the Autism Society of America, Past Board of Directors
- Wellesley College, Past Alumnae Admissions Representative
J.D., Syracuse University College of Law, 1996
B.A., Wellesley College, 1992