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John E. Sullivan III is a founding member of Sullivan & Sullivan, Ltd.  His practice areas include asset protection planning, estate planning, business planning, related tax issues, debtor-creditor relations, workouts, asset recovery, and oil and gas.  He has written and lectured extensively on these topics, and his works have been cited and/or quoted by various courts and in the official comments to the Uniform Trust Code.

Mr. Sullivan has been involved in various legislative projects related to trust, company, and debtor-creditor law.  He also sometimes serves as an expert witness in cases involving allegations of flawed or improper planning. 

Asset Protection, Estate, and Business Planning

Mr. Sullivan devises complex asset protection plans, including plans that use domestic asset protection trusts ("DAPTs"), foreign asset protection trusts ("FAPTs"), family limited liability companies ("FLLCs"), family limited partnerships ("FLPs"), and U.S. exempt property laws.  These asset protection plans are coordinated with, and are often a principal component of, a client's overall estate plan. 

He also drafts more routine estate plans, such as traditional A/B (or "credit shelter") trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts ("ILITs"), dynasty trusts, qualified domestic trusts ("QDOTs"), wills, powers of attorneys, and health care documents such as living wills.

Additionally, Mr. Sullivan also counsels clients on many issues related to the formation and operation of a business, including selecting the right entity, negotiating and drafting terms to include in a firm's governing documents, and other issues.

Tax Matters - General Concerns

Planning cases routinely involve tax-sensitive components, such as estate and gift tax mitigation, taxation of business entities, and other issues.  Mr. Sullivan is conversant with many of these issues and routinely works with clients and their other tax professionals to devise tax-efficient plans.

Tax Matters - Offshore Disclosure Cases

Mr. Sullivan represents taxpayers who wish to participate in IRS's Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative ("OVDI") program. 

In addition to voluntary offshore compliance cases, he will sometimes co-counsel with white collar criminal defense counsel in offshore cases targeted by the government for examination and/or prosecution due to a taxpayer’s failure to properly report foreign bank accounts, foreign trusts, or foreign foundations.

Debtor-Creditor Matters and Workouts

Mr. Sullivan will often handle commercial debtor-creditor negotiations and the drafting of related documents, such as loan agreements, guaranties, and notes.  This aspect of his practice involves the initial structuring of loan transactions, selling debt instruments, and working out distressed loans.

Oil and Gas

Mr. Sullivan has training and experience in various oil and gas matters.  This background  includes academic study of oil and gas issues while at the University of Texas School of Law, a brief stint as a law clerk in the Office of Special Counsel for the Texas Railroad Commission, involvement in well-transfer transactions, the structuring of a multi-entity drilling business, and litigation over various oil and gas matters such as lease rights, pipeline rights of way, underground natural gas storage issues, anti-trust concerns, partnership issues, securities disputes, and other matters.

Prior Litigation Experience

Prior to focusing on planning matters, Mr. Sullivan routinely handled complex litigation matters, many of which involved issues that are relevant to his current planning practice.  For example, he has:

»  Acted as creditor’s counsel and debtor’s counsel regarding various debtor-creditor issues, both in and out of bankruptcy court, and including collections, lender liability, and pre-judgment asset freeze matters.

»  Been involved in voluntary and involuntary bankruptcy cases, including discharge-of-debt and fraudulent transfer litigation.

»  Represented parties in civil and criminal offshore trust litigation.

»  Been involved in pre-mortem and post-mortem estate litigation.

»  Represented parties in complex civil racketeering (RICO) cases arising out of alleged fraudulent transfers and money laundering.

»  Represented parties in other RICO matters arising out of oil and gas "topleasing" activity.

»  Litigated partnership, securities, and other business disputes.

»  Participated in many complex financial discovery proceedings, including interstate and international discovery.

Although Mr. Sullivan no longer handles litigation matters as counsel of record, his prior experience in the litigation trenches has given him insight into how planning structures will fare when actually tested in court.  Mr. Sullivan still consults on litigation matters, and he can work closely with litigation co-counsel because he is a planning attorney who understands litigation.

Expert Witness Services

Mr. Sullivan occasionally serves as an expert witness in asset protection, estate planning, and debtor-creditor suits.


Mr. Sullivan was named one of the “Top 100 Attorneys” in the United States by Robb Report’s Worth Magazine (December 2005).  He has been quoted or cited in Bloomberg Wealth Manager, the Wall Street Journal, and Forbes.com.

He has been a guest lecturer in the International Business Organizations Course taught at Case Western Reserve University Law School (Cleveland, Ohio), has served as a peer reviewer for Oxford University Press in connection with a proposed academic text on anti-money laundering issues, and participated in the American Enterprise Institute’s 2007 Roundtable on Regulatory Competition and Offshore Financial Centers.

In 2009 and 2010, he was named a member of the Southpac Group’s Board of Advisors, which is an informal non-officer, non-director, non-employee group of attorneys that is periodically consulted by members of the Southpac Group regarding asset protection planning matters.

Hobbies and Personal

Mr. Sullivan is a native of Boston, Massachusetts and is an avid fan of Boston sports teams.  He enjoys reading history (especially books dealing with Anglo-Celtic and American history), and also enjoys watching college hockey and English Premier League football games.

Mr. Sullivan's other hobbies include playing hockey and soccer (a/k/a "real football"), fitness training, and (as a native Bostonian) cheering for the Red Sox.