Harold (Gus) Fletcher
Harold (Gus) Fletcher is Of Counsel to SMGQ where he focuses on U.S. and non-U.S. / cross-border taxation for individuals and businesses, including overall tax minimization, wealth structuring, business / entity structuring and estate planning; contentious and non-contentious trust and estate administration; as well as U.S. tax compliance for U.S. and non-U.S. persons and businesses. Mr. Fletcher also handles public and private trust company formation, operation, regulatory, general corporate and entity law matters.
Prior to becoming Of Counsel to SMGQ, Mr. Fletcher served as president, chief fiduciary officer and trust counsel of Investment Counsel & Trust Company (“ICT”), a boutique, independent, bank regulated trust company / multi-family office that he founded in the nascent stages of the specialized wealth management industry. At ICT, Mr. Fletcher oversaw all wealth structuring / planning, as well as fiduciary, regulatory, tax and other legal issues for the company, which had clients throughout North America, as well as in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. He also served as senior trust counsel of ICT’s related national trust bank, Argent Trust Company, N.A. Mr. Fletcher ensured compliance, mitigated risk and provided counsel relative to diverse aspects of Argent’s multi-jurisdictional fiduciary activities. At the time he left Argent, its trust bank operated in 14 states and administered over $2.25 billion in assets.
Before founding ICT, he served as Vice-President of Investments for Morgan Stanley / Dean Witter, where he oversaw all tax, trust, estate, retirement and financial planning related activities for the Memphis, Tennessee office.
In addition to the above in-house positions, Mr. Fletcher has been engaged in the private practice of law. He began his legal career in 1978 at Glankler Brown PLLC, a Memphis, Tennessee law firm founded in 1918, where he handled taxation and estate planning matters. Thereafter, he joined the Bogatin Firm, a boutique law firm focused on tax matters. Currently, he also serves as Special Counsel to Apperson Crump PLC, the oldest continuously operating law firm in Memphis, Tennessee, having been founded in 1865. Mr. Fletcher provides Apperson Crump and its clients counsel in the fields of international taxation and complex trust matters, as well as trust bank formation, operation and regulatory matters.
NOTABLE CLIENT WORK IN PRIVATE PRACTICE
- Counseled and advised wealthy global family regarding all aspects of inbound wealth planning, as well as inbound, outbound and overall tax minimization planning relative to such family’s global businesses and wealth structures.
- Counseled and advised wealthy non-U.S. individual regarding U.S. and non-U.S. trust matters, as well as U.S. income and transfer tax consequences of such matters.
- Counseled and advised member of wealthy global family regarding various aspects of the family’s trust, governance issues under the trust and of the family, as well as their family office.
- Counseled and advised entrepreneurial U.S. individual regarding successful non-U.S. business; including global tax minimization and U.S. tax compliance.
- Provided wealth and trust structuring advice and counsel resulting in multi-generational trusts containing innovative provisions adding significant flexibility relative to dynastic trust operation and beneficial interests.
- Represented beneficiary of a multi-generational trust in contentious trust matter. Matter included complex trust law, as well as U.S. federal transfer tax, including generation-skipping transfer tax, issues.
- Represented bank trustee in matter that was before the U.S. Tax Court concerning disallowance of trust’s deduction for a significant holding of worthless investment securities under I.R.C. § 165(g).
- Authored petition for writ of certiorari from the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
NOTABLE CLIENT WORK AT INVESTMENT COUNSEL & TRUST COMPANY
- Wealth Structuring & Fiduciary Administration. Structured wealth to maximize client goals and administered the resulting trusts and entities. Tracked global trends affecting fiduciary law. Leveraged comprehensive knowledge of, and experience with, fiduciary law, administration and taxation to: optimize multi-generational wealth; decant and otherwise modify multi-generational trusts; avoid judicial proceedings; and preserve family unity in the interests of current and future generations.
- Global Risk Planning & Mitigation. Including performing all U.S. related legal work for non-US dollar, non-US issuer bond strategy operated through Bank of Bermuda (now HSBC), Cayman and Bermuda, designed to diversify physical asset location and benefit from legal provisions at that time not available in the US, all to protect and enhance client wealth.
- Fiduciary & Regulatory Compliance. Advised / ensured all trust bank fiduciary and regulatory compliance including reviewing, interpreting and following: appropriate documentation and client instructions; OCC Regulation 9 and state equivalents; Bank Secrecy and USA PATRIOT Acts; Anti-Money Laundering Laws; and FBAR and other reporting requirements. Handled regulatory differences between banks and regulators. Managed corporate and structure governance. Also assured all regulatory and other compliance for related companies and their SEC registered investment advisory and CFTC/NFA futures-related activities.
- General Counsel, Corporate Governance & Board Appointments. Responsible for trust bank and non-trust bank corporate governance. Represented trust company / its affiliates / predecessors in depositions, disputes, settlements, general corporate, commercial and tax matters. Designed / implemented alternative dispute mechanisms to settle issues among beneficiaries of trusts including voluntary, judicial, and non-judicial instrument modifications and settlements. Served: as Chief Fiduciary Officer, Trust Counsel, Bank Secrecy Act / AML Officer; and on Board of Directors, Trust Committee, Audit Committee, Investment Committee, Technology / IT Steering Committee.
GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS AND PUBLIC POLICY
- The principal author, Pub. Acts 2013, Pub. Ch. 390, 108th Gen. Assemb., Reg Sess. (Tenn. 2013). This legislation is the most significant and comprehensive update to Tennessee’s trust law since initially adopting the Tennessee Uniform Trust Code. Passed unanimously by both houses of the Tennessee General Assembly.
- The principal author, 2013 Restated Comments To Official Text of the Tennessee Uniform Trust Code (2013). The above legislation was significant enough to require a complete restatement of such Comments.
- A principal author, Pub. Acts 2010, Pub. Ch. 725, 106th Gen. Assemb., Reg. Sess. (Tenn. 2010), significantly amending the Tennessee Uniform Trust Code. Passed unanimously by both houses of the Tennessee General Assembly.
- Selected by Tennessee Commissioner of Financial Institutions to provide trust, trust regulatory and trust related taxation input relative to Tennessee Governor’s “Tennessee Forward– Top to Bottom Review” of all state government agencies.
- Trust Committee Member, Tennessee Bankers Association. Selected to review and author fiduciary, trust and bank legislation submitted by committee and encourage state senators and house members to sponsor (and adopt) new legislation.
PROFESSIONAL AND CIVIC ACTIVITIES
- Florida Bar Section Member: International Law, Real Property, Probate and Trust Law, and Tax.
- Trust & Estate Practitioner (TEP) member of the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners (STEP), London, UK. Member of Miami, Florida USA chapter. STEP has 18,500 members across 80 jurisdictions and is the worldwide professional association for practitioners dealing with family inheritance and succession planning.
- Board of Trustees, Southern Trust School – A joint project of the Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee bankers associations. A professional training institution providing continuing education to lawyers and accountants, as well as to other professionals in banks, trust companies and trust regulatory and examining agencies. Among other things, Southern Trust School offers preparation to sit for the Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA) designation (not a designation under the Florida Certification Plan of the Board of Legal Specialization and Education of the Florida Bar).
- Founding member and past president, Memphis Tax Watch Group.
SELECTED PUBLICATIONS AND PAPERS – AUTHOR, EDITOR OR COMMENTATOR
- “Tennessee—A Trust Friendly State,” Family Wealth Report—a global online daily news publication covering the wealth management industry, January 2011 (Also appeared in Offshore Red—an affiliated UK print news publication, January 2011).
- “Tennessee Trusts Have Advantages Beyond Its Borders,” [Memphis] Commercial Appeal, October 26 2008.
- “Moonstruck — Tax Managed Core Investing,” Bloomberg Wealth Manager, May 2003.
- “The Trust Company — A Builder’s Blueprint,” Bloomberg Wealth Manager, May 2000.
- “Wolves at The Door,” Bloomberg Wealth Manager, January/February 2000.
- “From Wealth Manager to Trust Company (Evolution of Revolution),” CCH Journal of Retirement Planning, May — June 1999.
- “Saving Private Banking — Special Section: Million Dollar Advice,” Bloomberg Personal Finance, May 1999.
- “Family Office Interview — Focus on Southern US — Tax-conscious passive investor,” MAR Sophisticated Investor Strategies, December 1998.
- “Most Recent Chapter in Tennessee’s Transformation Into s Top Five U.S. Trust Jurisdiction” Presentation to Summer 2013 Mid-South Forum (Attorneys from throughout the Southeastern US), August 3 2013.
- “A Comparison of ‘Attractive’ States’ Trust Laws: Florida vs. Delaware” Presentation to the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), Miami, Florida USA Chapter, January 26 2012, with Douglas Lundblad, Esq. and Jerome L. Wolf, Esq.
- “Tennessee – A Comparison of ‘Attractive’ States’ Trust Laws,” Presentation Comparing the Trust Laws of Delaware, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Tennessee on 20+ Factors (with comprehensive citations) to Tennessee Bankers Association Trust & Wealth Management Conference, October 15 2009.
- “Tax and Planning Strategies Using Investment Services Trusts,” Presentation to Tennessee Bankers Association Trust & Wealth Management Conference, October 17 2008.
- “Changing Landscape of Trust Services; Is Delaware Really that Great of an Trust Asset Protection State?,” Continuing Legal and Other Professional Education Presentation, November 7 2007, with Thomas R. Buckner, Esq.
- “Privacy and Flexibility under the Amended Tennessee Uniform Trust Code & the Tennessee Investment Services Act of 2007,” Continuing Legal Education Presentation, October 16 2007, with Thomas R. Buckner, Esq.