St Johnsbury, VT 05819-2241
Versatile, smart and experienced business attorney.
Jake Wheeler represents closely-held businesses and their owners, real estate and timberland investors, fiduciaries, individuals, and non-profit entities on a wide variety of issues. These include complex acquisitions and sales, financings, estate planning and estate trust administration, fiduciary responsibilities, charitable giving, business succession, corporate governance, ski area acquisition and development, and conservation easements. He manages relationships and projects for firm clients throughout New England and for several throughout the Americas. In the course of his practice Jake has negotiated transactions and agreements with the federal government, several state and provincial governments, and their respective agencies.
Jake works with individual and family clients on charitable giving, estate, gift, and generation-skipping planning, as well as tax and asset protection planning. Many of those clients own valuable real estate in jurisdictions outside New England.
In addition, he advises public charities and independent schools on governance and development issues and strategies.
- Coordinated the administration of a multi-million dollar estate and trust administration that included the successful negotiation of the transfer and dedication of over a mile of undeveloped lakefront property spanning the border between the United States and Canada to the U.S. government and the Province of Quebec to be available to the public and maintained in its undeveloped state for recreational purposes. The estate administration also included the appraisal and sale of a unique collection of Canadian artwork and a very substantial distribution to a world-renowned museum. At the successful completion of this project, the client proclaimed it would not have been possible without Jake’s leadership and his DRM team.
- Negotiated the transfer by his client of a conservation easement on over 70,000 acres of timberland in upstate New York, proximate to the Adirondack Park, to the state of New York making the land available for public and recreational use. In doing so, Jake drew on the expertise and support of The Nature Conservancy.
- Managed a $40,000,000 Recovery Bond financing and New Markets Tax Credit project for a multi-national company enabling it to upgrade its industrial facility with state-of-the-art equipment to enhance its global competitive advantage and maintain its presence in Vermont. Jake led a DRM team consisting of tax, real estate, corporate finance, and legislative affairs professionals to complete the project under very tight deadlines. The successful completion also required negotiation with the state of Vermont and the legislature to implement tax credit legislation that would help Vermont businesses compete nationally and internationally while remaining in the state.
- Handled several ski area acquisitions, one of which required the issuance of a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service for land in a national forest. Another involved lease negotiations with the state of Vermont for land in a state forest that is included in the ski area. The project also included legislative action to extend the term of the existing lease.
- Approached by a company with substantial timber holdings in Northern New England that had decided to divest itself of hundreds of recreational and seasonal lakefront camp lots because they no longer fit within the company’s strategic business plan, Jake assembled and managed a team of attorneys, paralegals, and support staff to negotiate the individual sales agreements, ensure the transfers complied with state and local development, subdivision, and tax laws, and closed the sales, all in a very compressed time frame.
- Assisted a couple updating their estate plan which, in addition to including substantial lifetime gifts to family members, included advising them with respect to the transfer of their ownership of an entity that owned a recreational facility to a charitable foundation that could create a supporting organization to manage and operate the facility to promote community recreational opportunities. In so doing, Jake worked with the firm’s tax partner, Roger Prescott, one of the firm’s real estate partners, Scott Jaunich, and the financial and philanthropic advisers and staff of the foundation.
Boston University School of Law, J.D., 1974
Harvard University, B.A., cum laude, 1970
U.S. District Court, District of Vermont, 1979
U.S. Tax Court, 1987
- American Bar Association, 1975
- American College of Real Estate Lawyers
- Caledonia County Bar Association
- Vermont Bar Association
- Jake was selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America®, Corporate Law, Real Estate Law, Trusts and Estates, 1991-2021
- Received Martindale-Hubbell’s AV® Preeminent™ Peer Rating, the highest rating attainable
Jake is a member of the boards of directors of Community Bancorp, Community National Bank and the LSC Foundation. He is also a member of the board of managers of Community Financial Services Group LLC and a corporator of the St. Johnsbury Development Fund. He is also the chair of the Vermont Community Foundation. Jake was a founding trustee and chair of the board of trustees of the Riverside Day School and is currently a member of the Riverside School Endowment Advisory Council. He is a trustee of the Michael Anagnos School and Foundation. Jake is a Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium Fellow and currently chairs the museum’s nominating committee for the Franklin Fairbanks Award. Jake was also a board member and board chair of Burke Mountain Academy. He is a past trustee of the Vermont Land Trust and the St. Johnsbury Chamber of Commerce. Jake was also a founding director of Kingdom Trail Association Inc. and has served as a member of the Town of Burke Zoning Board of Adjustment. He is a past director of the Northeast Kingdom Region of the Bill Koch Youth Ski League.
Jake has lectured and participated in panel discussions for the Vermont Bar Association, Vermont Bankers Association, and private groups on a wide range of topics, including estate planning, estate tax law, real estate and corporate financing transactions as well as conservation easements, zoning, and land use issues. Most recently, he moderated a conference on New Markets Tax Credits sponsored by the firm and attended by members of the Vermont and New Hampshire business communities.
Budde v. Pierce and Budde (1977) 135 Vt. 152, 375 A.2d 984
St Johnsbury, VT 05819-2241ph: 802-748-8324