Mary Pokojny O’Reilly is Co-Chair of the firm’s Trusts & Estates Practice Group and a Partner in the firm’s Business & Real Estate Taxation Group, Private Wealth & Taxation Group, Trust & Estate Litigation Group, Mental Health, Guardianship & Elder Law Litigation Practice Group and Tax Exempt Organizations Practice Group.
Mary assists high net worth individuals and families in the preservation and transfer of wealth. Her clients include family business owners, real estate investors and developers, investment bankers, private equity and hedge fund managers, physicians, inventors, art collectors, entertainers, business professionals, retirees, non-resident aliens and LGBTQ. Because every client has its own unique circumstances, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to her planning. Instead, using her decades of experience in estate and trust administration, Mary listens to her clients goals and drafts a plan tailored to meet their unique needs and tax objectives.
Mary has an LL.M. (Masters of Law) in Taxation from New York University and a large focus of her practice involves helping clients minimize both state and federal income, gift, estate and GST taxes. Also critical to her planning is minimizing potential disputes among family members, protecting children and grandchildren from the deleterious effects of inherited wealth, and safeguarding assets from creditors (the most concerning creditor being a child’s spouse in the event of divorce). Mary’s work includes drafting wills and revocable trusts to ensure the client’s succession plan and tax goals are maintained beyond the client’s life; establishing trusts during the client’s life for business interests, investment real estate, residences, minor children, disabled children, life insurance and wealth preservation; developing a business succession plan for family businesses; creating family companies to preserve control over family assets, including private trust companies; counseling individuals on charitable giving, including establishing and administering family foundations, donor advised funds, charitable trusts and conservation easements. She is well versed and experienced in various sophisticated estate planning techniques, which she utilizes in her clients’ planning, including GRATs, SLATs, QPRTs, ILITs, CLTs, CRTs, FLPs, Freeze Partnerships, sales and loans to grantor trusts and transfers by formula clauses.
Mary’s practice also includes estate and trust administration. She represents executors in probating wills and administering estates and understands the delicate nature of losing a loved one and its impact on the estate administration process. She handles probate proceedings, disclaimers, prepares and files estate tax returns, and represents executors in estate tax audits and settling estate accountings.
Mary also advises trustees in their administration of trusts, including amending and decanting existing irrevocable trusts; migrating trusts to more favorable tax jurisdictions; advising trustees on the investment and distribution of assets; and settling accounts of individual and corporate trustees.
Additionally, Mary advises beneficiaries and fiduciaries in estate and trust litigation. Her expertise in this area includes preemptive work at the planning phase to minimize disputes and challenges in the future. She also represents executors, trustees and beneficiaries in estate and trust litigations, will contests and contested accountings.
Mary also has experience with non-profit organizations. She assists tax-exempt organizations in formation and counsels them in their administration and day-to-day operations, including fundraising, grant making and compliance with corporate and tax requirements.
Mary is a distinguished leader in her field. She is a Fellow of the American College of Trusts and Estates Counsel (ACTEC)—the country’s most elite group of trusts and estates attorneys with less than 3,000 members worldwide. She is also recognized as a leading estate planning attorney by various business publications including Chambers and Partners, Crain’s New York and Long Island Business News. She is a frequent lecturer to other estate planning professionals, speaking at prominent national legal conferences such as the American Bar Association’s Real Property, Trusts and Estates Section’s Spring Symposia, Practicing Law Institute’s Annual Estate Planning Institute and NYU’s Institute on Federal Taxation.
Prior to joining the firm in January 2011, Mary practiced for several years in the Trusts and Estates Group of the international law firm of Norton Rose Fulbright (formerly Fulbright & Jaworkski) in New York City.
Mary received her LL.M. in Taxation from New York University School of Law in 2007. She received her J.D., cum laude, from St. John’s University School of Law in 2003, where she attended law school on a full academic scholarship and served as Managing Editor of the St. John’s Law Review. She received her B.A., cum laude, from SUNY Binghamton in 1998.
Prior to attending law school, Mary lived abroad in Madrid, Spain for two years where she taught English to adults and became fluent in Spanish. Mary is a dual citizen of both the United States and Ireland and spent many summers of her childhood with her extended family in County Donegal, Ireland.
During her free time, Mary is a certified Zumba instructor. She also enjoys being with her family. She and her husband, who is also an attorney, have two wonderful teenage children. They live on Long Island surrounded by their extended family whom they all see and spend time with each week.