Steven J. Clausen

STEVEN J. CLAUSEN is a very experienced tax, business and wealth preservation attorney who actively represents clients located in Austin, Houston, The Woodlands and San Antonio as well as other cities in Texas. He focuses on representing family-owned businesses and their owners, high net worth families and individuals, and executors and trustees.

His practice includes tax and estate planning, business succession planning, business entity formation, organization and restructuring and charitable planning. Mr. Clausen educates and counsels business owners and other high net worth individuals on tax, wealth management, asset protection and asset transfer strategies (including charitable planned giving) to provide for their financial security and the financial security of their families, to help minimize the taxes that would be imposed on them and their estates, how to structure or restructure the family business so that it may be passed on to succeeding generations of the family so that the death of the owner does not force the sale of the business, and how to position a family business for an exit strategy, investment or joint venture.

With over 31 years of experience in advising high net worth clients, Mr. Clausen is familiar with the desire of such clients to preserve and protect their wealth, to maintain control of their assets, and to minimize taxation. Mr. Clausen also provides family business consulting services.

He serves or has served as a member of the board of directors of various not for profit organizations and closely held businesses, including chairman of The Planned Giving Council of Texas State University—San Marcos, chairman of Helping the Aging, Needy and Disabled, Inc., Austin, Texas, Estate Planning Council of Central Texas, the Planned Giving Council of Texas A & M University, College Station, Texas, the Society of Financial Service Professionals, Austin, Texas, and the Onion Creek Homeowner’s Association, as well as a trust protector, trustee and executor for various clients.

He is AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating an attorney can receive from such organization, is board certified in estate planning and probate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is a former adjunct professor in the graduate tax program at the University of Missouri Law School-Kansas City.

Mr. Clausen is a member of Attorneys for Family-Held Enterprises and a former chairman of the Wealth Preservation Group of Butler & Binion, L.L.P. and former co-chairman of Wealth Preservation Group of Winstead, Sechrest & Minick, P.C. He earned his J.D. degree, with high distinction, from the University of Iowa College of Law where he was elected to Order of the Coif, his Master of Laws degree in taxation from New York University and his M.B.A. degree from Southern Methodist University where he was elected to Beta Gamma Sigma and was first in his class.

Representative Matters

  • Successful representation before the Internal Revenue Service, including filing petition in the United States Tax Court, to support executor's position on the U.S. Estate Tax Return involving a substantial discount for the undivided one-half interest or deceased co-owner in two large South Texas ranches;
  • Successful representation before the Internal Revenue Service, including filing petition in the United States Tax Court, to support executor's position on U.S. Estate Tax Return involving substantial discount for the deceased owner's interest in a family limited partnership containing in excess of 500 million dollars in assets that was created and funded within one week of owner's death;
  • Structured the corporate succession plan of an independent oil company with a value of twenty-five million dollars owned by adult children: issues included identifying members of next generation having the talent and interest to take over the company, addressing the needs of the other members of the next generation, adequately providing for the current generation, recapitalizing the company, and revising buy-sell agreement and estate plans;
  • Counsel to family office in estate planning for family members, formation of investment partnerships, and formation and restructuring of family business entities;
  • Counsel to owners or closely-held companies, including inter-generational transfer of equity to dynasty trusts and developing exit strategies for older generations;
  • Counsel to representatives of deceased principal owner of privately owned company with a value of thirty million dollars, including valuation of decedent's interest, analysis of fiduciary obligations of representations to shareholders, review of control issues, and implementation of Section 303 Redemption;
  • Counsel to oil and gas family regarding the structuring and formation of limited partnership having over five hundred million dollars in assets, developing a business succession plan, and using a private foundation as a limited partner to provide a vehicle for promoting the families' philanthropic activities while minimizing the cost of transferring the family business to the next generation;
  • Counsel to fiduciary in reformation action involving whether the modification of an irrevocable trust having over four hundred million dollars in assets would terminate the status of the trust as a grandfathered trust for federal generation-skipping transfer tax purposes;
  • Counsel owner of winery regarding development of business succession plan and disposition of eighty million dollars in assets among multiple generations in tax efficient manner, including creation of dynasty trust in South Dakota;
  • Successful representation before the Internal Revenue Service to support executor’s position on U. S. Gin Tax Returns and U. S. Estate Tax Return involving substantial discounts for closely-held companies and a pre-death sale for a private annuity;
  • Counsel closely-held businesses and their owners on a wide array of corporate and taxation issues, including acquisitions, dispositions, and management equity incentives;
  • Counsel to a family office in formation and structuring of private trust company to be owned by various trusts of two unrelated families, also obtained the related private letter rulings and the necessary reformations of several trusts;
  • Administrative aspects of federal tax law, including private letter rulings and technical advice;
  • Reformation, modification, construction and termination of irrevocable trusts through state court proceedings; representations of fiduciaries and beneficiaries in litigation relating to probate or fiduciary law matters;
  • Estate and trust administration (including advising individual and corporate executors and trustees as to their fiduciary on various state law and federal tax matters), preparation of estate returns and fiduciary income tax returns.

Selected Publications and Presentations

  • The Probate Process From Start to Finish, National Business Institute, Austin, Texas, September 2010
  • Business Entities, National Business Institute, Austin, Texas, September 2009
  • Ethical Issues in Probate Practice, National Business Institute, Austin, Texas, September 2007
  • Basic Tax Considerations - What You Need to Know in Order to Choose the Appropriate Plan. National Business Institute, Austin, Texas, June 2007
  • Planning Methods to Control Medical Treatment. National Business Institute, Austin, Texas, June 2007
  • Succession Planning for Family Owned Business. Financial Planning Association, Austin, Texas, February 2007
  • Succession Planning for Family Owned Business, Society of Financial Service Professions, Austin, Texas. November 2006
  • What Business Owners Need to Know to Plan for Retirement and Estate Transfer, Prairie View A&M University, Staff Retirement, Houston, Texas, December 2003
  • Wills and Probate, Texas Department of Insurance, Houston, Texas, December 1999
  • Your Family’s Legacy – Plan Now or Pay Later, University of Texas Business Network, Houston, Texas, October 1999
  • Common Mistakes in the Estate Planning Process and in Preparing Estate Planning Documents, Houston, Texas, March 1999
  • Charitable Giving Techniques and Their Tax Consequences, Chinese Certified Public Accountants of Houston, Texas, November 1998
  • The Need for a Business Succession Plan, Montgomery County Estate and Business Council, Conroe, Texas, February 1997
  • The Barrister’s Corner, Monthly Newspaper Column on Estate Planning, Tax Planning and Financial Planning, The Woodlands Villager, The Woodlands, Texas, calendar year 1993
  • Administration of the Estate in Texas, National Business Institute, Houston, Texas, 1990
  • Generation Skipping Transfer Taxes, National Business Institute, Houston, Texas 1987

Community Involvement

Mr. Clausen serves or has served as a member of the board of directors of various not for profit organizations and closely held businesses, including:

The Planned Giving Council of Texas State University—San Marcos raises money to benefit Texas State University. Mr. Clausen served as chairman of this committee.

Helping the Aging, Needy and Disabled, Inc., Austin, TX,“HAND” has been providing in-home attendant services to elderly and disabled persons since 1972. Mr. Clausen has served as chairman to raise money for HAND.

Planned Giving Council of Texas A & M University raises money and charitable contributions for the benefit of Texas A&M University. Mr. Clausen has served on this board.

In addition, Mr. Clausen is a member of the Estate Planning Council of Central Texas, the Society of Financial Service Professionals, Austin Tax Group, as well as the Onion Creek Homeowner’s Association.