John F. Meigs

John Meigs concentrates his practice in planning and problem solving for wealthy individuals, their families and property interests, both in the United States and abroad. He spends a substantial amount of his time on estate planning and estate and trust administration. John focuses particularly on certain federal and other tax aspects of planning for substantial estates and closely held businesses, including the generation-skipping transfer tax and the taxation of transfers of interests in such businesses. He is well-versed in complex estates litigation, as well as asset protection strategies and techniques. John serves as counsel to a number of family-held businesses and nonprofit entities, including the licensor of a well-known intellectual property interest and two prominent museums. He has significant experience in the problems of nonprofit entities and serves as a director of several nonprofit institutions.

John has worked in estate planning and estate and trust administration for more than 30 years. He has experience in virtually every facet of this area, and co-litigated one of the most significant cases in the Pennsylvania law of adopted persons’ rights.

John has been instrumental in developing Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr’s integrated Personal Wealth Services approach to wealthy individuals and families. Personal Wealth involves sensitively examining the client’s needs and working with the client and their other advisors to bring suitable legal and financial tools to bear on the situation.

John's international work has involved clients in various European and African countries, as well as in India. In these matters, he works closely with the clients’ non-U.S. advisors.


  • Planned and executed a complex estate plan to pass an internationally renowned intellectual property interest down to family members for generations with minimal estate taxation and a control structure designed to facilitate succession planning for future generations.
  • Planned and executed estate and corporate planning for the owner and CEO of a manufacturing business to enable him to pass control to one son while treating other children fairly, with substantial estate tax savings at the owner's death.
  • Successfully litigated to obtain adopted relatives a share of the income from trusts valued at upwards of $100 million that had been set up in the 1920s by the founder of a major grocery chain, notwithstanding that the trust explicitly limited benefits to "lawful issue of the blood"
  • Erected a limited partnership structure for a family with a significant holding of extremely sought-after suburban farmland and defended discounts from IRS attack, saving the family millions of dollars.
  • Established a structure, in collaboration with a London-based lawyer, to hold the valuable London residence of a United Kingdom national who lives in the United States so that estate and inheritance taxes were eliminated or minimized in the United Kingdom and United States.
  • Litigated for one branch of a family against another regarding the meaning of a trust to determine which branch would receive substantial income; won at trial; and worked with our client to facilitate a settlement that has both branches of the family on good terms.

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