Meet Our Attorneys



About
Our Team

JOHN H. LAVELLE ,CPA,LL.M.
Founding Partner


John is passionate about serving family businesses, protecting wealth, and saving people money. His firm is devoted solely to the important practice areas for his passion: estate planning, tax consulting, and business transactions.

He is particularly thrilled when all three areas can be put together in one engagement, such as the sale of a family business. This multiplies the· impact of the planning and the magnitude of the savings. John and his firm bring this planning to numerous other situations: sales of legacy assets like farms or vacation homes, investment decisions and charitable giving.

For example, using something called "pre-event planning", business owners choose from an array of techniques before a sale transaction occurs. These techniques are custom designed to meet the owners' objectives: income tax savings, estate tax reduction and asset protection. John enjoys seeing how these strategies greatly increase the after-tax benefit for his client families.

John brings integrity and fair dealing to his advice, with a light touch and a comforting humor. Despite usually being knee-deep in death and taxes, John's approach is reassuring and effective. Most new clients leave John's office laughing, despite the gravity of the planning matters, and eager to take the next step.

Frequently, new clients admit that they never really understood their prior estate plan. John has the ability to clearly explain complex strategies so clients are able to make better informed decisions. Effective communication is a core value of John's, and his firm.

John has been in the muddy boots of the business owner. With his law partner Marty, he started the firm 25 years ago. They had no clients, no money, just a plan to be better, faster and more caring than what they had experienced with other lawyers. John learned what it is to acquire business, make payroll, run the operation and practice law. Many lawyers never experience that, and John uses this life experience to impart practical, useful knowledge to common planning problems of the business owner and other successful individuals.

When he is not horsing around at the firm, John can be found at his home, a horse farm in Middleburgh, Schoharie County, NY where he and his wife Patty relocated her Windhorse Thoroughbreds, LLC business. Like the law firm, Windhorse was another start-up, this time in the horse breeding and racing business. Seven years ago, Patty and John purchased and developed what is now known as Cotton Hill Farm, a farm property re-purposed for horse breeding. After mucking, mowing and spending his way to a better life in the country, John now enjoys his time off on the farm hiking with three farm dogs and keeping his distance from the numerous other farm critters.

Credentials

Education
New York University, School of Law, Master of Laws (LL.M.) (taxation), 1986
University of Georgia, School of Law, Juris Doctor, 1981
Bentley College (now University)
Bachelor of Science, Public Administration, 1978
Bachelor of Science, Accounting, 1978
Continuing professional (CPA) and legal education, averaging 100+ hours per year

Licensure
Certified Public Accountant certificate, Georgia, 1984 (retired)
Certified Public Accountant certificate, New York, 1984

Admission
New York, 1982
Massachusetts, 2006
U.S. Tax Court, 1991
U. S. District Court, Northern District of New York, 1993
Federal Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, 1992

Professional Memberships
American Bar Association, since 1982
New York State Bar Association since 1982
Massachusetts Bar Association, since 2006
American Institute of CPAs, since 1984
New York State Society of CPAs, since 1984
Estate Planning Council of Eastern New York, Inc., since 1992

Community
Through personal service and firm commitments, John has been active in many aspects of the community over the years. Here are some highlights:

Current member of five chambers of commerce (Schoharie County, Bethlehem, Saratoga and Rensselaer County.

Board of Directors and Executive Committee, and legal counsel, Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce, 2010-2015;

Board of Directors, Executive Committee, WAMC Northeast Public Radio, 2006-2015;

Board of Directors, Treasurer, Vice President, Chairman of the professional advisory committee, Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, Inc., 1989-2007;

Board of Directors, Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce, 1994-1997

Board of Directors, Treasurer, President, Board Chairman, Albany Symphony 1986-2002;

Board of Directors, Treasurer, L’Ensemble du Musique, a nationally renowned chamber music group, 1992-2000

Volunteer coach, Bethlehem youth soccer, 1987-1988

Founder and President, White Collar Cruisers, a motorcycle club for business owners in the Capital Region, 2003 to present

Adviser, The Chocolate Thunder Marching and Dance Band Youth Development Program, Inc., 2003-2010

Community Advisory Board, Finance Committee, Salvation Army of Albany County, 2006-2010

Publications
Professional Seminars and Course Books

With law partner and co-author Marty Finn:

The Complete Trust Course (a/k/a, The Ultimate Trust Course), Eau Claire: PESI, LLC, 1997 - 2009; Altoona: HalfMoon Education, Inc. , 2011 - 2014;

Estate Planning Techniques for Mid-Sized Estates, Eau Claire: PESI, Inc., 1997-2005;

Estate & Long Term Care Planning for Seniors & Their Families, Eau Claire: PESI, Inc., 1997, 2000, 2002;

Estate Planning for Survivors, Eau Claire: PESI, Inc., 1998

The Changing Tax Environment in New York State, Eau Claire: PESI, Inc., 1996

New York Supplements for the following Course Books:

Federal Estate & Gift Tax Workshop (a/k/a Handbook), By Al Secor, Eau Claire: PESI, Inc., 1995-2003;
Federal Fiduciary Income Tax Workshop (a/k/a Handbook), By Al Secor, Eau Claire: PESI, Inc., 1995-2003
Choice of Business Entity: A Nuts and Bolts Approach, By S. Siegel, Eau Claire: PESI, Inc., 1998
With law partner and co-author Jennifer Allinson:

New York State Bar Association, contributing authors, “Conservation Easements: Representing the Landowner”, 2011

New York State Bar Association, contributing authors, “Conservation Easements”, 2010

Books for General Public

With law partner and co-author Marty Finn:

Cents and Sensibility: The Practical Guide to Money & Aging (iUniverse, 2006)

  Articles Published in Professional Trade Journals, Daily Newspapers, Business Weeklies and Community Press

John has written extensively for publication, especially in the early days of his career. Among professional journals to publish his work are:

Taxation for Accountants Journal of Taxation The CPA Journal

Small Business Taxation Tax News Personal Finance

Taxation for Lawyers Taxes - The Tax Magazine Elder Law Attorney

Estate Planning Business New York

In his prior professional associations, John authored numerous regularly issued newsletters for his firms, and provided articles for publication in newspapers, business and community publications, sometimes under his by-line and sometimes under the local partner where the articles appeared. These works appeared throughout Upstate New York, New York City, Buffalo, Los Angeles, Vermont and Washington, D.C.

Locally, John worked with staff to encourage publishing articles for the benefit of the business and larger communities. Some of these efforts published in the Capital District Business Review (“CDBR”, Albany, NY area, often reprinted elsewhere in their publisher’s markets) included:

“Legal Check-up Vital for Businesses”, with co-author K.Goldstein, staff attorney, September 29, 2003;
“Tax Decisions Made Early On Will Have Dramatic Impact on New Venture”, with co-author Mary E. Cole, Tax Manager, October 17, 2002;
“Asset Protection Should Be Important Consideration for Business Owners”, with co-author Shari L. Buthfer, Senior Paralegal, April 29, 2002;
“LLCs Offer Advantages, But Be Aware of the Drawbacks”, with co-author R.W. McKenna, staff attorney, June 4, 2001;

Other published CDBR articles this century:
“Overlooked Tax Breaks Out There for Commercial Real Estate Purchasers”, November 12, 2001;
“Suggestions for Making a Difference Through Corporate Charity”, December 25, 2000;
“Charitable Giving Can Be Family Firm’s Winning Strategy”, June 5, 2000.

Since these halcyon years, John had taken up the publishing of a firm newsletter entitled Legal Insights, which appeared anywhere from one to four times a year. Recently, however, the new era of electronic publishing and social media has replaced the honored tradition of paper newsletters, and the world moves on.

Presentations
John will speak to any group that needs help understanding estate planning, requires updates of the latest estate and income tax developments, wants to learn more about selling a family business, or offers him free food.

Some recent (2015-16) presentations:

Albany County Farm Bureau. “Life Cycle Opportunities in Farm Business Succession Planning”, Voorheesville, NY, 5/17/16

Albany County Farm Bureau. “What Farmers and Landowners Need to Know about Estate Taxation and Estate Planning”, Voorheesville, NY, 3/30/16

Annual Tax Conferences, New York State Society of CPAs, covering estate planning topics of interest to practicing CPAs:

Adirondack Chapter (Lake Placid, NY - 11/16/15)
Mid-Hudson Chapter (Newburgh, NY - 12/3/15)
Northeast New York Chapter (Troy, NY - 12/2/15)
Southern Tier Chapter (Binghamton, NY - 10/22/15)
Hudson Valley Estate Planning Council, “NYS and Federal Legislation Update” (Newburgh, NY - 9/24/15)

The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, Inc., Panel Discussion on Charitable Giving for Financial and Not for Profit Professionals (Troy, NY 5/14/15)

Agricultural Stewardship Association, Farm Transfer and Estate Planning Workshop (Schaghticoke, 4/7/15)

John also speaks to company boards, not for profit boards, and for charitable advocates for land and farm conservation sponsored by Farm Bureaus, Land Trusts, the USDA, and Forest Associations, and for bar associations on estate planning and tax topics.