Press Releases

ACTEC Elects 38 New Fellows to the College

Washington, DC: The Board of Regents of The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) met October 28 at the 2018 Fall Meeting in Washington, DC to review nominations for a new class of Fellows. We are proud to announce that 38 individuals have been peer-elected to the College. This group of new Fellows spans the US, including one academic Fellow and four Fiduciary Counsel, and also an International Fellow representing France.

ACTEC is an organization of peer-elected trust and estate lawyers and law professors who are skilled and experienced in the preparation of wills and revocable and irrevocable trusts; probate; trust, guardianship and conservatorship administration; transfer taxation planning and administration; integration of asset protection planning with the aforementioned practice areas; fiduciary income taxation; incapacity planning; elder law; employee benefit planning; donative planning; charitable planning; advising exempt organizations; and probate, trust, and protective proceedings litigation to improve and reform probate, trust, and tax laws, procedures, and professional responsibility.

To qualify for membership, a lawyer must have no fewer than 10 years’ experience in the active practice of trust and estate law. Lawyers and law professors are elected to be Fellows based on their outstanding reputation, exceptional skill, and substantial contributions to the field by lecturing, writing, teaching, and participating in bar leadership or legislative activities. It is their aim to improve and reform probate, trust and tax laws, procedures, and professional responsibility.

Skip Fox, the College’s President, offered his congratulations, saying, “We are excited to welcome a new group of ACTEC Fellows who are strongly committed to advancing the trust and estate profession. Each has taken part in a thorough review process and each represents the best in the field.”

New ACTEC Fellows

Leslie Kiefer Amann of Sentinel Trust Company LBA in Houston, TX – Leslie is the Chief Fiduciary Officer and works to ensure consistency and best practices where Sentinel Trust is named as trustee, executor, or agent. She has a background in business litigation and nearly 25 years of experience administering trusts which informs her work serving clients with complex fiduciary needs.

Kirsten Lela Ambach of Karr Tuttle Campbell in Seattle, WA – Kirsten is a shareholder in Karr Tuttle Campbell’s Tax, Trusts & Estates Department and focuses her practice in the areas of estate planning, business succession, and trust and estate administration. She counsels clients on all facets of a sophisticated estate plan, including tax strategies, complex trusts, asset protection, intrafamily gifts, and other wealth transfers.

Andrew S. Auchincloss of Schlesinger Lazetera & Auchincloss LLP in New York, NY – Andrew is a Partner and focuses his practice on estate and investment planning strategies under U.S. law for U.S. and non-U.S. individuals and families. He represents individuals and families, tax-exempt organizations, banks and trust companies, family offices and private trust companies and other clients in a broad range of substantive areas.

Carole M. Bass of Moses & Singer LLP in New York, NY – Carole is a Partner in Moses & Singer’s Trusts and Estates and Matrimonial and Family Law practice groups. Carole has over 20 years of experience helping individuals and families with their estate planning needs. She also works closely with clients on estate administration and represents individual and corporate fiduciaries and estate beneficiaries in Surrogate’s Court proceedings.       

John Travis Baxter of Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C., in Little Rock, AR – Trav provides counsel to individuals and business entities in the areas of estate planning, tax advice, administration of trusts and estates, formation and operation of business entities, succession planning, premarital agreements, and agricultural law. His practice ranges from the drafting of simple wills, trusts and powers of attorney for property management and health care decisions, to multi-generational estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax planning.

Jill Choate Beier of Beier & Associates, PLLC in Lake Placid, NY – Jill is a Founding Partner at Beier & Associates, PLLC. She is experienced in a broad range of matters in the personal planning area, including estate and tax planning for individuals and families; estate and trust administration; all aspects of Surrogate’s Court practice, including probate proceedings, will contests and guardianships, and planning for charitable giving and philanthropy.

Dana A. Bennett of Bennett & Wyatt LLC in Red Bank, NJ – Dana is a member and current officer of the Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association, the current chair of the Monmouth County Probate Committee, member of the New York Bar Association and American Bar Association, and member (and past-president) of the Estate and Financial Planning Council of Central New Jersey. Her areas of practice include Estate & Trust Administration, Estate Planning, Estate & Gift Tax Matters, Family Business Planning, Charitable Planning, and Estate & Trust Litigation.

Wesley L. Bowers of Fizer, Beck, Webster, Bentley & Scroggins, P.C., in Houston, TX – Wesley is a shareholder with FizerBeck, and his practice focuses on complex trust and estate matters, including estate planning, taxation, probate and estate administration, the preparation of wills and trusts, and assisting clients with charitable giving, marital property issues, and business succession planning. He also advises clients on related matters involving fiduciary law and estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer taxes.

Scott A. Bowman of McDermott Will & Emery in Washington, DC – Scott focuses on providing personal tax and estate planning counseling to individuals and families, advising them on structuring their wealth to minimize income, estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer taxes over multiple generations. He is experienced in handling international aspects of tax and estate planning for multi-national families, advising non-US citizens who are considering immigrating to the United States.

Jenny Hill Bratt of Withers Bergman LLP in Rancho Santa Fe, CA – Jenny is a Partner in the private client and tax team. Her practice is focused on US and international estate planning, trusts and estates administration, family business planning and charitable planning and exempt organizations. She also advises clients in planning and implementing charitable gifts including structuring such gifts through charitable remainder trusts and charitable lead trusts.

Melody J.E. Breeden of Turner Padget Graham & Laney, P.A. in Myrtle Beach, SC – Melody focuses her practice in the areas of estate planning and probate law. Melody handles both simple and complex estate planning and probate matters ranging from Simple Wills, Durable Powers of Attorney, and Health Care Powers of Attorney to Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts. She also handles also handles Special Needs Trusts, Conservatorships, and Guardianships.

Keri D. Brown of Baker Botts L.L.P., in Houston, TX – Keri is a Partner and serves as a trusted advisor to some of the nation’s most prominent individuals on complex federal estate, gift and income tax litigation and controversy matters, including disputes and litigation with the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service. She also represents fiduciaries of trusts and estates in state courts with respect to administration and fiduciary duty issues.

Rachel D. Burke of Furey, Doolan & Abell, LLP in Bethesda, MD – Rachel is a Partner in the firm’s Estate Planning practice. Rachel advises and assists fiduciaries and beneficiaries in the administration of existing trusts and estates. She also has experience with lifetime giving strategies and testamentary plans to reduce gift, estate, and generation-skipping taxes.

Elizabeth R. Carter of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA – Elizabeth is a Professor of Law at Louisiana State University. She joined the Law Center faculty in 2010 and her teaching and research interests are in the areas of Civil Law, Comparative Law, Estate Planning, and Tax.     

Jared R. Cloud of McDermott Will & Emery LLP in Chicago, IL – Jared counsels clients on estate, trust and family business disputes. He represents fiduciaries and beneficiaries in litigation before courts in numerous jurisdictions. Jared also has experience in commercial, product liability, media defense, professional malpractice, and copyright and trademark litigation.

John P. Dedon of Cameron/McEvoy, PLLC in Fairfax, VA – John is a tax lawyer who has worked in the estate planning, asset protection and business areas for more than 35 years. He also works extensively in the charitable area, creating public and private charities, remainder and lead trusts, supporting organizations, and churches.

Patrick L. Emmerling of Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC in Buffalo, NY – Patrick is a Trust and Estate attorney. He is also a certified public accountant and frequent speaker at industry, New York State Bar Association seminars, as well as the Notre Dame Tax and Estate Planning Institute. Patrick is Past President, Financial Planning Counselors of Western New York, Inc. and Past Treasurer, WNY Planned Giving Consortium, Inc.

Peggy K. Gardner of Law Office of Peggy K. Gardner, P.C., in Colorado Springs, CO – Peggy has over 30 years of experience and helps her clients reduce taxes, preserve wealth, and meet their personal, family, and business goals. She concentrates her legal practice on complex estate planning, estate administration, taxation, business succession planning, charitable giving, and the full range of wealth preservation strategies for high net worth clients.

Nancy Susan Germany of The Germany Law Firm, PC in Denver, CO – Susie has been an attorney for more than 16 years. She has practiced in the areas of criminal litigation, civil litigation and domestic law in addition to elder law, probate and estate planning. Susie is the past co-chair of the Elder Law Section and is a director for the Colorado Fund for People with Disabilities and an advisory board member for Front Range Hospice.

Jessica Galligan Goldsmith of Kurzman Eisenberg Corbin Lever, LLP in White Plains, NY – Jessica is co-Managing Partner. An active practitioner for more than 30 years, Jessica practices in the areas of estate and gift planning, estate administration, planning for closely held businesses, charitable planning and administration, and related private client services.

Jessica Mering Hardin of Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson, P.A., in Charlotte, NC – Jessica advises clients on a wide variety of matters related to wealth transfer, asset protection, tax planning and charitable giving. Jessica assists individuals and families with sophisticated strategies that include gifts and sales to irrevocable dynasty trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts and irrevocable life insurance trusts. She is also a contributing author to the BB&T Estate Planning Forms Manual, a popular resource for North Carolina attorneys.

Linda Funke Johnson of Senter, Stephenson, Johnson P.A. in Fuquay Varina, NC – Linda is the attorney sole shareholder of Senter, Stephenson, Johnson, PA. Her principal areas of practice are Estate Planning and Administration, Real Property Transactions, Guardianship and Taxation. Linda is currently serving as a council member of the Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association.

T. Kyle King of Hodges, McEachern & King in Jonesboro, GA – Kyle is a Partner with Hodges, McEachern & King and has been engaged in the general civil practice of law for more than a decade. He has lectured at seminars on topics ranging from probate practice to the Georgia reporters shield law, and he has been published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.

Celeste C. Lawton of Norton Rose Fulbright in Houston, TX – Celeste is a Partner in the Houston and San Antonio offices. Celeste’s practice is focused on wealth transfer planning. She also has experience preparing traditional and complex wills, guardianship avoidance documents, and revocable and irrevocable trusts, including intentionally defective grantor trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, life insurance trusts, charitable lead trusts, and charitable remainder trusts.

Scott M. McCullough of The McCullough Group in Kaysville, UT – Scott is a Founding Member of The McCullough Group. He specializes in estate, business, asset protection and charitable planning. Scott is the Past president of the Utah State Bar, Estate Planning Section. He is the Past President of the Salt Lake Estate Planning Council.

Maryse Naudin of Tirard Naudin in Paris, France – Maryse has more than 30 years’ experience and a particular expertise in advising foreign investors acquiring French real estate property as well as advising French clients with foreign interests. She also has a wealth of expertise in matters relating to trust aspects in a civil law environment, European taxation, and in particular to tax litigation with respect to community freedoms.

Michel Wyman Nelson of Iowa Savings Bank in Carroll, IA – Michel is Senior Vice President, Fiduciary Counsel. He is the Co-founder, officer and director of Iowa Academy of Trust and Estate Counsel (currently serves in both capacities). Michel is interviewed or quoted on financial topics in publications including the New York Times, Business Week, Forbes, Lawyers Weekly, Des Moines Register, Iowa Farmer Today, Investment News, Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal.

Raymond Clifford Odom of The Northern Trust Company in Chicago, IL – Ray is a Senior Vice President at Northern Trust – Chicago. He serves as National Director of Wealth Transfer Services in the Wealth Management business unit. Ray serves as a national subject matter specialist in wealth transfer planning and fiduciary product solutions. He also works with regional wealth advisory teams and wealth strategists to provide valuable planning ideas to clients, prospects and their advisers.

Steven J. Schindler of Perkins Coie LLP, in Seattle, WA – Steven represents individuals and families in personal and estate planning strategies that range from basic estate plans to sophisticated planning techniques to achieve a variety of family legacy and charitable objectives. He advises clients on probate and trust administration, estate and trust dispute resolution, and tax matters, including the preparation of gift and estate tax returns.

Michael S. Schwartz of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP in New York, NY – Michael is a partner in the Private Client and the Trusts and Estates practice groups. His practice focuses on domestic and multijurisdictional estate and succession planning for high net worth individuals, extending to all facets of estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax planning. His practice also encompasses all phases of estate and trust administration. He represents fiduciaries, including banks and trust companies, and beneficiaries, in contested fiduciary matters.

Ramsay H. Slugg of U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management in Fort Worth, TX – Ramsay s a Managing Director and member of the National Wealth Planning Strategies Group at U.S. Trust. He is a frequent speaker on tax and financial planning topics. Ramsay is also the author of the Handbook of Practical Planning for Art Collectors and Their Advisors, published by the American Bar Association’s Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law.

Bridget O’Brien Swartz of Dyer Bregman & Ferris, PLLC in Phoenix, AZ – Bridget returned to the practice of law after having served in the position of Vice President and Senior Trust Officer at First International Bank & Trust. Prior to joining the trust department at First International Bank & Trust, she practiced law in the areas of elder law, mental health, special needs planning, probate and trust for 18 years, with the focus of her practice having been special needs planning in the most recent years.

Vincent C. Thomas of Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP in Wilmington, DE – Vince helps closely-held or public companies structuring transactions around tax, liability, and other corporate issues. His area of focus includes counseling distressed companies on tax issues; combining tax, trust and transactional experience to advise distressed companies with liquidation structures; and representing institutional trustees in all aspects of the administration of Delaware statutory and common law trusts.

Brian P. Tsu of Henderson, Caverly & Pum, LLP in San Diego, CA – Brian is a Partner in the Estate Planning, International Private Client and Taxation Groups at Henderson, Caverly & Pum LLP. He advises clients in the areas of domestic and international estate and charitable planning, with particular emphasis on domestic and international business succession planning, wealth transfer planning and fiduciary income taxation.

Christopher Daniel Vaughan of Vaughan, Fincher & Sotelo P.C. in Vienna, VA – Dan is a Principal attorney who has been recognized as one of the leading trusts and estates attorneys in the Washington Metropolitan area in Washingtonian and Northern Virginia Magazine. He is a member of the Virginia State Bar, and is currently serving on the Board of Governors as the Vice-Chair of the Trusts and Estates Section.

Robert J. Will of Lewis Rice LLC in Saint Louis, MO – Bob advises clients on matters related to trust and estate litigation, class action and other complex litigation, professional liability, and eminent domain. He is committed to continuing education and is a frequent speaker and author on topics relating to his areas of practice.

Cynthia R. Woods of Woods Law, PLLC in Billings, MT – Cynthia practice consists of preparing estate planning documents, including trusts, wills, and powers of attorney; representing clients in guardianship, conservatorship, and probate matters; representing clients in trust administration, and business formation, including limited liability companies, corporations, and charitable organizations.

Megan R. Worrell of Duane Morris LLP in New York, NY – Megan is the Vice Chair of the Duane Morris’ Private Client Services Practice Group, and head of the group’s International Practice division. She practices in the area of U.S. and international tax and wealth transfer planning, specifically assisting clients with cross-border issues to develop tax-efficient estate plans. Her work involves foreign trusts, pre-immigration and expatriation planning, planning for the purchase of U.S. property by non-U.S. persons, asset transfers, beneficiary conflicts, and compliance with federal and state estate, gift, inheritance and income tax returns.