Bernard L. McAra specializes in Family Wealth Transfer, including customized planning for family concerns, from families with young children, to families with unique assets such as family cottages and farms to family businesses. His estate planning practice ranges from the protection of minor and disabled children to counseling family business owners on how best to transfer complicated family wealth. His advice and customized drafting includes the resolution of family disputes regarding family businesses and assets; recognition and resolving of income and estate planning issues; the accomplishment of charitable planning and assisting clients in dealing with disabled family members, and Medicaid issues.
In his business practice, Bernie represents clients ranging from farmers to businesses exceeding $500,000,000 a year in sales. He has unique experience in the purchase and sale of automobile dealerships, having represented clients in this area and throughout the United States for over 30 years. He brings a background of litigation experience and tax experience and training to both the business practice and estate planning practice. He has conducted numerous appeals in the tax area, including successful conclusions and trials before the U.S. Tax Court. His Tax Court successes have included one of the very first instances of an estate being allowed a discount not only for minority interest and lack of marketability but also a market absorption discount due to large real estate holdings. Many of his tax appeals have been settled before trial including one in which the assessed tax liability was reduced from over $7,000,000 to less than $300,000.
Bernie is currently a member of the Flint Estate Planning Council and has served as the past President of that organization. In addition Bernie has lectured in tax at the University of Notre Dame Law School; served as Adjunct Professor of Law at Cooley Law School for estate planning and estate and gift taxation; and has been a guest lecturer at numerous state seminars and symposiums for the State Bar Association of Michigan; the Genesee County Bar Association; the Michigan Chapter for the American Academy of Family Practitioners and other organizations. In addition, he has been a guest speaker at the Michigan Association of Life Underwriters (MALA), State Convention and the New York Life Underwriters Annual State Meeting. He has provided seminars on behalf of numerous local and regional financial planning firms.
In 1989/1990 Bernie was a founding member of what is today known as the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys. From a small organization of approximately 30 to 40 members, this organization now embraces over 800 attorneys nationwide. It allows its members to bring a unique network of planning ideas, documentation and experience to their estate planning clients.
Areas of Practice
Estate Planning, Business Law, Tax, Tax Litigation and Probate Matters
Lead Counsel in the acquisition or sale of over 50 automobile dealerships ranging from a small town in Indiana to major dealerships on both the West Coast and the East Coast of the United States. This experience has included the negotiation for the terms of sale, both as to asset sales and stock sales; assisting with the analysis of tax ramifications to the sellers and buyers; the supervision of the environmental review of real estate properties; negotiation, preparation and finalizing of all documentation necessary to complete such transactions.
Bernie has assisted numerous clients with corporate restructuring including the reorganization of subsidiaries, affiliates and corporate divisions, making them more responsive to tax issues and managerial control. This has included tax-free corporate reorganizations, as well as the multiple use of entities such as S Corporations and Limited Liability Companies.
Bernie’s wealth of experience in business law ranges from representing the largest real estate developer in Genesee County; numerous automobile dealership clients; manufacturing facilities; charitable organizations and civic groups; loan documentation for banks; physicians and numerous other professional and business entities.
New York University Law School, Master of Laws in Taxation (with honors), 1972
Cornell University, Juris Doctor, 1970
University of Notre Dame, Bachelor of Arts (cum laude), 1967
Admitted to Practice
State of Michigan, 1970
United States District Court – Eastern District of Michigan, 1970
Michigan Bar Association, Section Member: Corporations, Estate Planning, Business, Taxation
American Bar Association, Section Member: Taxation, Estate Planning
Genesee County Bar Association
Awards and Recognitions
AV® Peer Review Rating by Martindale-Hubble
Served as Associate Professor of Law – Cooley Law School for Estate Planning and Estate and Gift Taxation
Guest lecturer at numerous state seminars and symposiums, including: State Bar Association of Michigan, Genesee County Bar Association, Michigan Chapter – American Academy of Family Practitioners on Estate Planning Michigan Association of Life Underwriters (MALA) State Convention
Past President: Flint Estate Planning Council
“Compensating the Service Partner” – American Bar Association Magazine
“Medicaid How Poor Do I Have To Be”
“Life Insurance and Asset Preservation”
Community Service And Interests
Flint One Hundred Club – (1975 to present) founding Member, Director, Officer
Flint Institute of Music – Long Range Planning Committee
Genesee County Easter Seals – Board of Directors (1985-1998)
Genesee County Humane Society – Board of Directors (1980-1985)
Genesee County Association for Retarded Children – Board of Directors (1975-1980)
Grand Blanc Michigan FOCUS Director and Consultant – (2000-2004)
Greater Flint Area Sports Hall of Fame – Incorporator – (1978)