Top estate and personal tax planning lawyers in Toronto

Lexpert puts the spotlight on the top estate and personal tax planning lawyers in Toronto based on the results of comprehensive yearly peer review. For the complete list of Ontario’s most recommended estate and tax planning lawyers and law firms, check out our practice area rankings.  

In the survey, the practice of estate and personal tax planning encompasses the provision of wealth-preservation advice and representation for high-net-worth individuals.

 

Most frequently recommended estate litigation lawyers

Howard S. Black

Law firm: Minden Gross LLP

Year called to the Bar: 1985

Howard S. Black is a senior partner and chair of the estates group at Toronto-based business law firm Minden Gross LLP. His practice includes estate litigation, mediation and arbitration of estate disputes, estate planning and administration, drafting and administering wills and trusts, and advising on capacity issues. He writes and speaks extensively on various areas of estates law and estates mediation. Black is considered as among Canada’s best estate litigation lawyers. He has served as an adjunct professor of estates and estate litigation at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto since 1992 and has received several teaching awards.

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Clare E. Burns

Law firm: WeirFoulds LLP

Year called to the Bar: 1991

Clare E. Burns is a partner at WeirFoulds LLP, a Toronto-based business law firm specializing in litigation, corporate, property and government law. Burns is considered as one of Canada’s top senior trusts and estate litigation lawyers. She has acted for estate trustees on passings of accounts seeking approval of commercial transactions involving assets with a value in excess of $1 billion. Burns was appointed as the children’s lawyer for the province of Ontario from 2003 to 2008, where she supervised cases involving variations of trust, will challenges, passings of accounts, guardianships and all kinds of dependent's relief matters. She has appeared in the Ontario Superior Court, the Court of Appeal for Ontario, Tax Court of Canada, Federal Court of Canada and the Supreme Court of Canada.

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Justin W. de Vries

Law firm: de Vries Litigation LLP

Year called to the Bar: 1993

Justin W. de Vries is the principal at de Vries Litigation LLP, an estate, trust and guardianship litigation firm with offices in Toronto and Oakville. De Vries specializes in estate, trust and capacity litigation and complex estate administration. He has appeared before all levels of the Ontario Court, the Federal Court and litigated Supreme Court of Canada leave applications. De Vries has also acted as a court appointed pre-trial judge and pro bono disciplinary counsel for the Law Society of Ontario. He has chaired and lectured at various legal education programs. De Vries is a frequent moderator and one of the leading estate litigation lawyers in Canada.

Paul J. Gibney

Law firm: Thorsteinssons LLP

Year called to the Bar: 1991 (BC); 1994 (ON)

Paul J. Gibney is a partner at Thorsteinssons LLP, one of Canada’s largest tax firms. He focuses on personal, corporate and trust planning for high-net-worth individuals, family offices, executives, owner-managers and their businesses, both domestic and international. His practice includes corporate reorganizations, estate planning, purchases and sales of businesses, immigration and emigration, non-profit organizations and charities. Gibney also represents taxpayers in their dealings with the Canada Revenue Agency in the context of audits, appeals and voluntary disclosures. He is recognized as among the best estate litigation lawyers in the country.

Ian M. Hull

Law firm: Hull & Hull LLP

Year called to the Bar: 1990

Ian M. Hull is the co-founding partner of Hull & Hull LLP, one of Canada’s leading estate, trust and capacity litigation, mediation and estate planning firms. He is a certified specialist in estate and trust law and civil litigation and is considered as one of the country’s top estate litigation lawyers. Hull also maintains a mediation practice through Hull Estate Mediation Inc. and has co-authored several books on estate law.

Hilary E. Laidlaw

Law firm: McCarthy Tétrault LLP

Year called to the Bar: 1988

Hilary E. Laidlaw is a counsel at McCarthy Tétrault LLP’s Toronto office. She is a certified specialist in estates and trusts by the Law Society of Ontario and is considered as among Canada’s leading estate litigation lawyers. Laidlaw devotes her practice to estate litigation, including incompetency matters, complex and high-net-worth estate planning and administration. She boasts extensive experience in contentious proceedings, including challenging and defending wills, passing of estate, trust and guardian accounts, court applications for advice and direction, and will and trust interpretations. Her firm is one of the country’s largest specializing in business law.

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Archie J. Rabinowitz

Law firm: Gowling WLG

Year called to the Bar: 1984

Archie J. Rabinowitz is a member of the litigation and dispute resolution group at Gowling WLG’s Toronto office, where he is also a partner. He specializes in estates and trusts law. Rabinowitz draws upon a breadth of trial and appellate experience in fiduciary litigation to represent trust companies, government agencies and individuals in matters involving contested passing of accounts, validity of wills, estate claims, breach of trust actions, undue influence claims, interpretation of wills and the appointment or removal of trustees or guardians. He also deals with the Canada Revenue Agency in matters involving voluntary disclosures under the Income Tax Act and rectification and repairs to defective wills and trusts. Rabinowitz is recognized as among the country’s top estate litigation lawyers. His firm specializes in business law.

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Kimberly A. Whaley

Law firm: Whaley Estate Litigation Partners

Year called to the Bar: 1999

Kimberly A. Whaley is the principal and founding partner at Whaley Estate Litigation Partners, a litigation boutique in based in Toronto. She practises in the areas of estate, trusts, fiduciary litigation, including power of attorney disputes, guardianship, claims for support and elder law. Whaley is a certified specialist in estates and trusts law by the Law Society of Ontario and is considered as among the Canada’s leading estate litigation and personal tax planning lawyers. She has held various executive positions with the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, the Ontario Bar Association and the Canadian Bar Association.

Melanie A. Yach

Law firm: Aird & Berlis LLP

Year called to the Bar: 1993

Melanie A. Yach is a partner and a member of the estates and trusts and tax groups at business law firm Aird & Berlis LLP. Her practice covers all areas of estates and trusts, including estate planning and estate administration, with a focus on litigation involving trusts, estates and capacity issues. Yach’s practice extends beyond representing individuals and families to advising trust companies. She is actively involved in various capacities on the executive of the national wills, estates and trusts section of the Canadian Bar Association. Yach is an editor and contributor of publications on trusts and estates law. She is considered as one of the country’s best estate litigation lawyers.

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Most frequently recommended estate and personal tax planning lawyers

Rachel L. Blumenfeld

Law firm: Aird & Berlis LLP

Year called to the Bar: 1998

Rachel L. Blumenfeld is a partner and a member of Aird & Berlis LLP’s estates and trusts and tax groups. Her practice focuses on trusts and estates, personal tax planning, charities and not-for-profit law. She advises clients on tax, trusts, estate planning and administration, preparation of wills, power of attorney documents, business succession and insurance planning. Blumenfeld has significant experience in cross-border planning for clients who have US or other foreign connections. She also works with families with disabled children to plan and structure their estates appropriately. Blumenfeld offers advice to charities and donors on planned giving, philanthropic programs, administration of bequests and other gifts. She is recognized as among Canada’s best estate and personal tax planning lawyers.

Howard M. Carr

Law firm: Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP

Year called to the Bar: 1974

Howard M. Carr is a partner at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, one of Canada’s largest full-service business law firm. His practice is focused on all major areas of estate planning. Carr assists clients in tax-planned wills and trusts, estates and post-mortem estate planning. He also advises on estate freezing, cross-border and international will planning, marriage contracts and charities. A significant part of his practice is dedicated to business succession planning, inclusive of family shareholder agreements. Carr also has significant experience in both contentious and non-contentious family situations. He has acted as a facilitator in several family planning transactions and has also advised clients extensively on estate litigation matters and commercial trusts. Carr is considered one of the top estate and personal tax planning lawyers in the country.

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Brian E. Cohen

Law firm: Gowling WLG

Year called to the Bar: 1999

Brian E. Cohen is a partner at Gowling WLG’s Toronto office. He is also co-leader of the firm’s national private client services group. Cohen assists clients in the areas of estate planning, trusts and personal taxation, advising high-net-worth individuals on succession planning alternatives. He also advises donors, charitable organizations, public and private foundations, and not-for-profit organizations regarding the tax implications of formation, registration, governance and planned giving strategies. Cohen frequently advises on estate litigation matters. He has presented and prepared papers for the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners annual conference and continuing education sessions and several legal professional organizations. Cohen is among the country’s top estate and personal tax planning lawyers.

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Sheila M. Crummey

Law firm: McCarthy Tétrault LLP

Year called to the Bar: 1984

Sheila M. Crummey is a counsel at McCarthy Tétrault LLP. She specializes in personal tax and estate planning, family business succession planning and estate and trust administration. Crummey is a certified specialist in estates and trusts law by the Law Society of Ontario and is recognized as among Canada’s leading estate and personal tax planning lawyers. Her years of experience working as a senior tax manager in a national accounting firm have given her a broad knowledge of tax planning, particularly for business owners. Crummey also advises on Canada-US cross-border estate planning. Her charities and not-for-profit practice involve providing advice to individuals on structuring tax-effective philanthropy. Crummey also advises public charitable and not-for-profit organizations and private family foundations on a range of issues, including governance matters, regulatory compliance and risk management.

M. Elena Hoffstein

Law firm: Miller Thomson LLP

Year called to the Bar: 1980

M. Elena Hoffstein is a lawyer at Miller Thomson LLP, where she specializes in all areas of estate planning and family business succession planning, corporate reorganizations and both pre- and post-mortem planning. She advises clients on cross-border and international matters, wills, trusts and marriage contracts. Hoffstein is a leader in charity law, advising both charities and donors on effective legislative, tax and regulatory matters and on tax-effective charitable gifting. She ensures that multijurisdictional property and family business interests are protected. Hoffstein represents clients in both contentious and non-contentious estate litigation matters, assisting with will challenges, mental capacity matters, applications for advice and direction of the court and the passing of fiduciary accounts. She has published extensively and is a frequent speaker at the several conferences and events on the practice. Hoffstein is recognized as one of the country’s best estate and personal tax planning lawyers.

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Margaret R. O’Sullivan

Law firm: O’Sullivan Estate Lawyers LLP

Year called to the Bar: 1983

Margaret R. O’Sullivan is a managing partner at O'Sullivan Estate Lawyers LLP. She practices exclusively estate planning and is considered among the Canada’s top estate and personal tax planning lawyers. O’Sullivan’s practice involves estate dispute resolution, advising executors, trustees and beneficiaries and administration of trusts and estates, including cross-border and multijurisdictional trust and estate matters. Her firm provides estate planning, administration and litigation services to high net-worth clients in Toronto.

Elie Roth

Law firm: Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP

Year called to the Bar: 2000

Elie Roth is a partner at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP’s tax practice. He advises clients on all aspects of domestic and international tax planning, corporate reorganizations, mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance. Roth is frequently consulted on cross-border transactions, structuring non-resident investment into Canada and outbound investment by Canadian multinationals. He advises taxpayers on tax audit matters and has been successful in representing taxpayers in tax litigation proceedings at various levels of court. Roth also acts as counsel to charitable and non-profit organizations. He is recognized as among the leading estate and personal tax planning lawyers in the country.

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David A. Steele

Law firm: Torys LLP

Year called to the Bar: 1993 (ON); 1993 (New York)

David A. Steele is a partner at Torys LLP, one of Canada’s largest full-service business law firms. He devotes his practice to domestic and international family trusts, estate planning and administration, charities and business trusts. Steele regularly advises domestic and international financial institutions and others acting as trustees and custodians. He also has published numerous articles on trust law issues, including in the areas of business trusts and the rights of beneficiaries to information. Steele is considered as one of the country’s top estate and personal tax planning lawyers.

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Corina S. Weigl

Law firm: Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP

Year called to the Bar: 1995

Corina S. Weigl is a partner at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP. She specializes in estate and family business succession planning, estate administration and charities and not-for-profit law.

Weigl is recognized as one of the country’s leading estate and personal tax planning lawyers. She is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, the Canadian Tax Foundation and the Ontario Bar Association, estates and trusts subsection. She is involved in several pro bono matters. Weigl also writes and lectures frequently on trust and estate matters and is consistently recognized in top legal publications.

Timothy G. Youdan

Law firm: Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP

Year called to the Bar: 1979 (ON); 1971 (England & Wales)

Timothy G. Youdan is a partner at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP. He is a leading trust and estate practitioner and considered as among Canada’s top estate and personal tax planning lawyers. Youdan advises clients on the establishment and administration of domestic and international trusts, both personal and commercial. He regularly counsels domestic and international private clients, including high-net-worth individuals and families, trust companies, law firms and non-profits. Youdan also acts as counsel in trust and estate litigation. He is also a frequent speaker and prolific writer on issues related to trusts and estates.