Michael W. Galligan

Michael W. Galligan: Attorney with Phillips Nizer LLP
  • Partner at Phillips Nizer LLP (67 Attorneys)
  • 485 Lexington Avenue, 14th Floor, New York, NY 10017
    View Michael W. Galligan's office location
  • Michael W. Galligan is a partner in the Trusts & Estates Department at Phillips Nizer LLP, where he practices primarily in the areas of domestic and international estates and trusts and related estate and income tax and immigration planning. Mr. Galligan designs and documents estate plans, supervises the implementation of lifetime giving and wealth transfer programs, advises executors and trustees in the administration of estates and trusts and in the settlement of fiduciary accounts, and represents estate and trust beneficiaries in both contested and non-contested matters. On the international side, he counsels U.S. clients who own property or have significant ties to other countries to establish integrated estate plans that take into account applicable non-U.S. as well as U.S. tax regimes, property laws, and inheritance rules. Mr. Galligan is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, an Academician of the International Academy of Estate and Trust Law and a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association. In 2009, he began his tenure as chair of the International Law & Practice Section ("IL&PS") of the New York State Bar Association.
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Michael W. Galligan is a partner in the Trusts & Estates Department at Phillips Nizer LLP, where he practices primarily in the areas of domestic and international estates and trusts, U.S. and cross-border estate and income tax planning, private international law, and immigration.

Mr. Galligan concentrates his practice in complex U.S. and international estate planning and the administration of U.S. and non-U.S. trusts, estates and other wealth transfer and wealth preservation vehicles. In addition to clients who are U.S. citizens and residents with family members and property holdings located only in the United States, his clients include U.S. citizens and residents with property holdings abroad; non-U.S. citizens and residents who own property and invest in the United States; families whose members are citizens and residents of different countries and often own property in different countries; non-U.S. persons planning to become U.S. residents; and U.S. citizens and residents leaving the United States permanently or temporarily. He also represents individual and corporate fiduciaries in connection with these matters. With the assistance of qualified counsel in the relevant jurisdictions, Mr. Galligan has worked on cross-border wealth transfer, trust and succession projects involving well over thirty countries worldwide.

In connection with the international aspect of his practice, Mr. Galligan also advises clients on immigration law and directs Phillips Nizer’s services to clients who need specialized assistance in obtaining or maintaining legal immigration status in the United States as well as close coordination of their immigration goals with their tax and estate planning objectives.

Mr. Galligan is a graduate of the Columbia University Law School (J.D., 1985), where he was an Editor of the Columbia Law Review and a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. He received his B.A. Degree from the University of San Francisco and also holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in Religious Studies from the Yale University Graduate School and a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from the Columbia University School of Public and International Affairs.

Mr. Galligan regularly lectures and writes articles and reports in the area of domestic and international estate planning and administration, including:

• U.S. Taxation of U.S. Limited Liability Companies, TaxStringer, an online publication of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (June 1, 2018);
• U.S. expatriate persons and property owners, the European Union Succession Regulation and the choice of New York law, Trusts & Trustees, Vol. 23, No. 3 (April 2017);
• The Hague Convention on Trusts and the Uniform Trust Code, Trusts in Prime Jurisdictions (Fourth Edition, 2016);
• ' Forced heirship' in the United States of America, with particular reference to New York State, Trusts & Trustees (February 2016);
• U.S. Residence: A Tale of Two (or More) Definitions, New York Law Journal (August 5, 2013);
• “ Adjusting the Globe’s Tilt Just a Little: Foreign and U.S. International Taxpayers After the First Fiscal Cliff of 2013, ” Leimberg’s Estate Planning Newsletter (http://www.leimbergservices.com/, March 4, 2013);
• U.S.A. Tax Effects of a Hindu Undivided Family, ” Legal Era, an Indian-based legal publication (October 2010);
• “ International Estate Planning for U.S. Citizens: An Integrated Approach, ” Estate Planning, a Thomson Reuters publication (October 2009);
• Ties to U.S. and Canada: Differences in taxation of transfers affect bequests and gifts, New York Law Journal (September 17, 2007);
• “ Buying USA: Ways of minimizing US transfer taxes on US property interests of non-US persons, ” in STEP USA (June 2007);
• “ Modern Inheritance Develops in China: U.S. investments are affected by changes in requirements on ownership and disposition of property, ” New York Law Journal (February 13, 2007);
• You Must Remember This: Ten key principles to keep in mind when planning for U.S. clients with non-U.S. family or property, and non-U.S. clients with U.S. family or property, Trusts & Estates (December 2005);
• Making Sense of Four Transatlantic Estate Tax Treaties: US-Netherlands, US-Germany, US-France and US-UK, New York State Bar Association International Law Practicum (Spring 2004);
• International Charitable Giving and Planning Under U.S. Tax Law, Tax Management Estates, Gifts and Trusts Journal (May - June 2004);
• Ten Important Points to Remember About International Estate Planning, New York State Bar Association International Law Practicum (Spring 2003);
• “ U.S. Trust Law and the Hague Convention on Trusts, ” New York State Bar Association Trusts and Estates Section Newsletter (Fall 2000);
• Foreign Trusts and U.S. Estate Planning: A Client-Centered Analysis, published in the Journal of Asset Protection (July/August 1999); and
• “ Maintaining a Trust’s U.S. Tax Status,” New York Law Journal (March 24, 1999).

Mr. Galligan currently serves as a member-at-large of the Executive Committee of the New York State Bar Association, the largest voluntary state bar association in the United States with over 75,000 members and, in that capacity, also serves as Executive Committee liaison to the Association’s Committee on Membership as well as to its Committee on LGBT People and the Law. From 2009 to 2010, Mr. Galligan served as Chair of the International Section of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA International), which counts among its members over 2,200 international legal practitioners from New York and around the world. He was a member of the NYSBA Task Force on New York Law in International Matters and a contributor to the Task Force’s Report, which was approved by the NYSBA House of Delegates in June, 2011. He continues to actively support the “ Three Missions” that the NYSBA International adopted during his chairmanship: (1) Custodian of New York Law as an international standard, (2) Guardian of the New York Convention on Arbitral Awards and the international arbitral process and (3) Monitor of international law developments in the United Nations system. In this connection, he has also authored:

• Why Choose New York Law? (New York Dispute Resolution Lawyer, Spring 2016, Vol. 9, no.1; published by the New York State Bar Association)
• “ Choosing New York Law as Governing Law for International Commercial Transactions ” (Appendix A and Appendix B), New York State Bar Association, International Law Practicum (Autumn 2013);
• International Practice Comparative Charts with Annotations (September 2012)

Prior to joining Phillips Nizer as a member of the firm in 2000, Mr. Galligan practiced law in affiliation with two other distinguished New York law firms. In 1990, Mr. Galligan was a member of the delegation of the Committee on International Human Rights of the New York City Bar Association to Kosovo. A co-chair of the Committee on Asylum and Refugees of the American Immigration Law Association from 1989 to 1991, he was the principal author, with the late Arthur C. Helton, of the 1989 publication of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, “ Immigration Options for Chinese Nationals.” With the late Mr. Helton, he drafted, for the Human Rights Committee of the Russian Parliament, a Statement of Principles on Refugee Protection. Mr. Galligan was also a member of the team that developed pioneer legal instruments regarding health care decisions and health care agents for clients of the New York-based Gay Men’s Health Crisis [GMHC] during the height of the AIDS crisis in the late 1980’ s.

Prior to commencing the practice of law, Mr. Galligan was a visiting professor in the faculty of theology at the Gregorian University in Rome from 1973-1976 and held several pastoral and administrative positions in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa in California from 1976 through the end of 1980. He is the author of God and Evil (Paulist Press, 1973).

Rankings and Ratings:

• Chambers and Partners, High Net Worth Edition (2016, 2017)
• The Best Lawyers in America (2009 - Present; Trusts and Estates)
• Super Lawyers -- Metro New York Edition (2006 - Present; Estate Planning & Probate, International and Immigration)
• Martindale-Hubbell (AV Preeminent Rated)
• Who's Who Legal: Private Client (2014, 2015)

Social Media:

• LinkedIn Profile


• Woodrow Wilson Fellow
• Berger Prize in International Law, Columbia University
• Moses Gitelson Prize in International Affairs and Human Values, Columbia University

Areas of Practice (8)

  • Trusts and Estates
  • International Estate Planning
  • Tax
  • International
  • Immigration
  • Not-For-Profit
  • Private Clients Group
  • Asian Practice

Education & Credentials

Contact Information:
(212) 841-0572  Phone
(212) 262-5152  Fax
University Attended:
University of San Francisco, B.A., summa cum laude, 1969; Yale University, Ph.D., 1973; Columbia University, M.I.A., 1984
Law School Attended:
Columbia University, J.D., 1985
Year of First admission:
1987, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York; 1987, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York; 1989, U.S. Supreme Court; 1986, New York

Professional Memberships:

•American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (Fellow)
•International Academy of Estate and Trust Law (Academician)
•New York State Bar Association
•The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP)
•New York City Bar Association
•American Society of International Law
•American Immigration Lawyers Association
•New York International Arbitration Center

Italian and French and German and Spanish

Peer Reviews

  • 5.0/5.0
  • A Martindale-Hubbell Peer Rating reflects a combination of achieving a Very High General Ethical Standards rating and a Legal Ability numerical rating.

*Peer Reviews provided before April 15, 2008 are not displayed.

Client Reviews

  • 4.8/5.0 (1 review)
  • 100% (1 recommendation)
  • Communication

  • Responsiveness

  • Quality of Service

  • Value for Money

  • Recommended 4.8/5.0 Rated on 01/29/18 in Trusts and Estates.

    Michael Galligan is more ethical than most attorneys. He has the patience of a saint and he can find what others miss. He is extremely knowledgable and even judges & opposing counsel defer to his knowledge of the intricacies of the law.

    Michael Galligan is more ethical than most attorneys. He has the patience of a saint and he can find what others miss. He is extremely knowledgable and even judges & opposing counsel defer to his knowledge of the intricacies of the law. Read less

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