Terry James ("Jim") Lee advises clients in estate planning, private wealth law, tax and business law, international matters, and real estate and commercial transactions. He also counsels business founders and their families on matters of family governance, privacy, and issues of especial importance to high-profile and ultra-high net worth families and individuals.
Jim leads our family office and private client attorneys, a specialized group of advisors providing multidisciplinary resources and bespoke solutions for sensitive and pressing family concerns, values-based wealth transfer, and business succession. Leveraging his background in business, economics, and accounting, he assists clients with the structuring and implementation of trusts (including grantor trusts, such as IDGTs, GRATs, and QPRTs), family offices, private trust companies, family limited partnerships, LLCs, corporations, and other sophisticated tax and investment vehicles and techniques.
A testament to his abilities, Jim has a referral-only, concierge practice. He has developed a reputation for being an inventive, outside-the-box problem-solver, and for being fiercely loyal to his clients. This client-oriented approach means Jim designs estate and business plans to meet the needs of each family’s personal vision. As an example, trusts and business succession plans can be customized to provide incentives to beneficiaries and successors, such as children and grandchildren, to become productive and contributing members of society. Often known as the family’s lawyer, Jim develops long-term relationships that help promote continuity from generation to generation, while respecting individual thought and new perspectives.
Throughout his career, Jim has also advised clients on planned giving methods, including establishing charitable remainder and lead trusts, private foundations, public charities, and other tax-exempt organizations. Coming full circle, he advises trustees and executors on their fiduciary responsibilities and tax implications in the administration and distribution of trusts and probate estates.
Jim is fluent in Spanish, and many years ago, while living in a foreign country, he witnessed firsthand the impact attorneys can have helping others with their legal and familial goals and objectives. He cherishes opportunities to help people in his role as an analytical thinker, writer, and advocate.
Jim enjoys time with his family, composing music, and experiencing other cultures and languages. For seven years he performed as a member of the Phoenix Boys Choir, entertaining and touring throughout the United States and abroad. “Because of those early eye-opening experiences, the desire to meet and appreciate other people and their customs and beliefs,” he says, “has never quite left me. When a guest in another country, I prefer not only to visit but also to interact with its people. They then become a part of you, and you become an ambassador of both your home country and that part of the world you have come to know. Phoenix, Arizona is my base camp.”
Married with six now-adult children, Jim once saw himself as “the roadie” and sound engineer for his kids’ mobile DJ business—a business Jim too once had back in high school. You might have found him playing at schools, weddings, and private events. His go-to song? Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”
Jim is a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), a group of peer-elected trust and estate attorneys spanning the U.S. and abroad. He is also a Certified Specialist in trusts and estates through the State Bar of Arizona.