Delaware - Private Wealth Law Lawyers & Law Firms - HNW | Chambers and Partners
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HNW Guide

Private Wealth Law — Delaware

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Gordon, Fournaris & Mammarella PA

From the HNW guide

The "outstanding estate planning group" at this trusts and estates boutique has a strong reputation in Delaware and beyond. "They have created a niche for themselves and will be local counsel for big matters," says one out-of-state source. The team advises clients on trust and estate planning, estate administration and fiduciary litigation.

A Wilmington interviewee highlights the firm's popularity with clients, explaining that "firstly, they are really nice people and very responsive, and they are also operating at a level higher than most trust lawyers in Delaware." Sources praise the "strong bench of talent" at GF&M. "They are fantastic," enthuses one wealth adviser, "really good drafting and very responsive." Another commentator says that "they are all knowledgeable and easy to work with. I would rate all the lawyers there as excellent."

Notable practitioners

Peter Gordon is an "absolutely top-notch" estate planner, sources say. One interviewee says they regard Gordon as "a thought leader in Delaware," and another enthuses: "Peter is awesome – he has been doing this the longest in Delaware and he knows the business more than most people." As well as non-contentious trusts and estates work, he also has a fiduciary litigation practice. "Peter has been involved in significant cases and knows the Delaware Code inside and out," peers report. "He is an excellent technician and can convey complex issues in a concise way that clients can appreciate," highlights another source.

Michael Gordon is viewed as the "young rising star of the firm," and has built a strong national practice with a focus on Delaware trusts law, particularly in the creation of dynasty trusts, asset protection trusts and the migration of trusts into Delaware. Gordon's fellow attorneys are impressed by his command of the details in complex cases. One lawyer comments: "He takes a pragmatic approach and gives a lot of attention to the technical aspects." "His work product is outstanding," says another wealth professional. Others highlight Gordon's ability to communicate these difficult legal concepts to clients. "He takes a common-sense approach and can bring things down to a level for clients to understand," reports one interviewee. "He doesn't bury the client with information – he takes complex scenarios and turns them into easy-to-understand information," says another, adding that they consider Gordon to be "the best attorney that I know."

Daniel Hayward has a strong reputation for advising wealthy individuals and families about the creation and administration of Delaware trusts. One source says they consider him "a very competent, common-sense attorney. He is technically astute and he takes the time to listen – you don't feel like you are on a clock with him." As well as acting for wealthy individuals and families, Hayward also advises corporate and individual trustees on their fiduciary duties and represents them in litigation. "He has done an outstanding job," comments another wealth planning professional, adding: "He is efficient at explaining issues to clients."

Peers say Norris Wright is "an excellent attorney." Wright was formerly president and trust counsel at US Trust Company of Delaware. "He has vast experience as he previously worked in-house with trust companies in Delaware," comments a source. "He provides a different perspective for clients." Wright advises clients on estate planning and represents them in fiduciary litigation matters.

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Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP

From the HNW guide

Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell is "a nationally renowned firm for Delaware-specific matters," says a source. Multiple interviewees describe the team as "excellent," with one explaining that "they are knowledgeable, practical, results-orientated and very responsive." The trusts, estates and tax team works with local, national and international clients on Delaware trust planning, trust formation, administration and modification of trusts and fiduciary litigation matters.

As well as advising wealthy clients on estate planning and asset transfers, the firm also acts as counsel for private banks and trust companies in Delaware and for the Delaware arms of international wealth managers and financial institutions. The team works with these firms on a range of issues, often advising on the migration of trusts to Delaware, and the lawyers win extensive praise from trusts professionals in Wilmington and further afield. "They are extraordinary," enthuses one source, adding that "their work product is always pristine. We always breathe a sigh of relief when we find out the work has been done by them."

Notable practitioners

Kimberly Gill McKinnon is special counsel for the firm's trust, estates and tax group. She is held in high esteem by her peers in Delaware. One interviewee considers her to be "very efficient and very knowledgeable in the trusts area," and another says: "I find her to be excellent, pleasant, easy to work with and very knowledgeable about law." McKinnon advises affluent individuals and families on estate and trust planning, asset protection and business succession planning. Another Delaware source describes McKinnon as "very practical and an excellent draftsperson," adding: "I have always had a good experience when she is involved."

Todd Flubacher is held in high esteem by his peers. "I think highly of him," says one source, adding: "He provides very practical advice on a timely basis and he is well versed in the nuances of the planning aspects of Delaware tax law." Flubacher acts for trustees, beneficiaries and individuals. He advises clients on estate and trust planning and has expertise in dynasty, asset protection and directed trusts. An interviewee highlights Flubacher's analytical ability and says he is "practical, very direct and gives his recommendations with reasons. His advice is clear and his drafting is pristine." Another market commentator says: "He is a very strong, knowledgeable trusts attorney and a lot families across the country trust him."

Interviewees say Thomas Pulsifer is "an excellent lawyer." He is "terrific and extremely knowledgeable," a "lawyers' lawyer" who is "very much in demand" for trusts and estates work. Pulsifer works with trustees, families and family offices to modify existing trusts and create new structures. He also assists with the migration of trusts into Delaware. Sources reserve particular praise for Pulsifer's trusts drafting ability: one interviewee describes him as a "great resource," noting that "he has creative solutions to complex problems," and another says he is "incredibly knowledgeable about Delaware statutes." "He is a very good draftsperson, turns matters around quickly and is very practical in how he handles things," elaborates one commentator.

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Richards, Layton & Finger PA

From the HNW guide

Richards, Layton & Finger is one of the largest full-service firms in the state. The lawyers in its trusts and estates group advise high net worth individuals on the protection and preservation of assets. "They are technically very qualified and their advice is prompt and efficient," a source comments.

The team also provides fiduciary advice to major trust companies and the wealth management arms of large financial institutions. "They are excellent," enthuses one private wealth adviser, explaining: "They are proactive with responses and up to date with the education of the team. I would give them my highest marks. They are a wonderful group to work with."

Notable practitioners

Donald Sparks is a "top-notch" trusts and estates practitioner who is "a leader in the Delaware Bar" and "very knowledgeable on Delaware law." Sparks assists wealthy individuals, financial institutions and trust companies with estate planning and administration matters, and he also has a strong fiduciary litigation practice. "His strengths are his expertise in this field and understanding of the issues that can arise, and his common-sense approach," explains one source. Another interviewee regards him as "very knowledgeable and practical - he has a broad view that incorporates risk and practical considerations." "Don is outstanding," summarises one Delaware lawyer, adding: "He exercises phenomenal judgement and he has many years of terrific experience."

Peter Conaty advises his wealthy clients in Delaware on trust and estate planning and administration, including sophisticated techniques such as directed trusts and dynasty trusts. He is particularly highlighted for his work with local clients, and sources say that "he does a lot for wealthy Delawareans." He also helps clients to move out-of-state trusts to a Delaware situs. One source says: "Peter is one of our go-to people for moving a trust to Delaware." Conaty also advises corporate fiduciaries and individuals on estate administration. "I think highly of him," comments an interviewee, adding: "He has great technical ability."

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Connolly Gallagher LLP

From the HNW guide

The trusts and estates lawyers at Connolly Gallagher act for individuals, trust companies and financial institutions on estate planning and wealth preservation matters using a range of techniques. Sources say that "as a firm they are very good and active in the industry," and that "they do great work for their clients." The team also acts for its clients in trusts and estates litigation.

Notable practitioners

Charles Durante has a well-established practice in estate planning and administration, acting for individuals, families and closely held businesses. Sources say he is "a very knowledgeable and responsive attorney" with "a wealth of knowledge." Durante advises on strategies to transfer wealth and assets to the next generation, and also assists fiduciaries with the administration of existing structures.

Gregory Weinig acts for both local and national clients on trust and estate planning matters. "He is very smart and very, very good," says one peer, and another commentator describes him as "a straight-shooter and a collegial worker." Weinig is experienced in working with dynasty, directed and asset protection trusts, and he also counsels institutional fiduciary on the administration of trusts. Interviewees also highlight his work on legislative reform in the trusts and estates space: "He is very active on the legislative front," says one; "I trust his opinion on legislation."

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Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP

From the HNW guide

The tax, trusts and estates lawyers at Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor represent a broad range of clients including family foundations, public charities and closely held business owners. The team advises on estate planning and administration strategies, utilising techniques such as irrevocable life insurance trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts and defective grantor trusts.

"I've been impressed with their service," says one commentator, highlighting the team's breadth of knowledge and responsiveness for particular praise. "They're excellent," enthuses another source, adding: "They get to see the best litigation, they are exposed to best law practice and they are able to hire great talent. Their billing practices are above average and they also have their finger on the pulse in terms of communicating with the client."

Notable practitioners

Vincent Thomas "is just brilliant," enthuses one source, adding: "He is like an encyclopaedia – he is so well read about the law and changes in it, he is like a fountain of information that you can rely upon." He complements his business planning and transactions practice with his trusts expertise, advising institutional trustees on the intricacies of administering Delaware trusts. Market insiders praise his client relationship skills and his problem-solving abilities. "He approaches the problem in a non-assuming manner, takes a fresh perspective and gives you your full options," says one interviewee. Another source comments: "He is a good listener, he understands the client and makes sure their needs are recognised. He is very skilled at drafting documents and he is very good at resolving issues in a non-confrontational manner."

Sources say Richard Popper is "a really strong technical lawyer" who is "very bright and technically proficient." Popper has built a strong local practice, representing Delawareans in their tax, trust and estate planning matters. "He is brilliant," enthuses another source. "He is very adept at finding solutions to complex problems."

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Todd A. Flubacher

Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Todd Flubacher is held in high esteem by his peers. "I think highly of him," says one source, adding: "He provides very practical advice on a timely basis and he is well versed in the nuances of the planning aspects of Delaware tax law." Flubacher acts for trustees, beneficiaries and individuals. He advises clients on estate and trust planning and has expertise in dynasty, asset protection and directed trusts. An interviewee highlights Flubacher's analytical ability and says he is "practical, very direct and gives his recommendations with reasons. His advice is clear and his drafting is pristine." Another market commentator says: "He is a very strong, knowledgeable trusts attorney and a lot families across the country trust him."

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Gordon, Fournaris & Mammarella PA

From the Chambers HNW guide

Peter Gordon is an "absolutely top-notch" estate planner, sources say. One interviewee says they regard Gordon as "a thought leader in Delaware," and another enthuses: "Peter is awesome – he has been doing this the longest in Delaware and he knows the business more than most people." As well as non-contentious trusts and estates work, he also has a fiduciary litigation practice. "Peter has been involved in significant cases and knows the Delaware Code inside and out," peers report. "He is an excellent technician and can convey complex issues in a concise way that clients can appreciate," highlights another source.

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Thomas R Pulsifer

Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Interviewees say Thomas Pulsifer is "an excellent lawyer." He is "terrific and extremely knowledgeable," a "lawyers' lawyer" who is "very much in demand" for trusts and estates work. Pulsifer works with trustees, families and family offices to modify existing trusts and create new structures. He also assists with the migration of trusts into Delaware. Sources reserve particular praise for Pulsifer's trusts drafting ability: one interviewee describes him as a "great resource," noting that "he has creative solutions to complex problems," and another says he is "incredibly knowledgeable about Delaware statutes." "He is a very good draftsperson, turns matters around quickly and is very practical in how he handles things," elaborates one commentator.

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W. Donald Sparks, II

Richards, Layton & Finger PA

From the Chambers HNW guide

Donald Sparks is a "top-notch" trusts and estates practitioner who is "a leader in the Delaware Bar" and "very knowledgeable on Delaware law." Sparks assists wealthy individuals, financial institutions and trust companies with estate planning and administration matters, and he also has a strong fiduciary litigation practice. "His strengths are his expertise in this field and understanding of the issues that can arise, and his common-sense approach," explains one source. Another interviewee regards him as "very knowledgeable and practical - he has a broad view that incorporates risk and practical considerations." "Don is outstanding," summarises one Delaware lawyer, adding: "He exercises phenomenal judgement and he has many years of terrific experience."

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Band 2

F. Peter Conaty, Jr

Richards, Layton & Finger PA

From the Chambers HNW guide

Peter Conaty advises his wealthy clients in Delaware on trust and estate planning and administration, including sophisticated techniques such as directed trusts and dynasty trusts. He is particularly highlighted for his work with local clients, and sources say that "he does a lot for wealthy Delawareans." He also helps clients to move out-of-state trusts to a Delaware situs. One source says: "Peter is one of our go-to people for moving a trust to Delaware." Conaty also advises corporate fiduciaries and individuals on estate administration. "I think highly of him," comments an interviewee, adding: "He has great technical ability."

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Band 2

Cooch and Taylor

From the Chambers HNW guide

Matthew D'Emilio heads the trusts, estates and tax group at Cooch and Taylor and has built a notable practice in Delaware. Sources praise his "strong leadership skills" and he is also described as a "really good, sound attorney." "He is excellent and a very nice guy," comments a peer, adding: "He really works hard and pays attention to the details. He is very good advocate for his clients." D'Emilio advises clients on estate planning matters and asset protection strategies.

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Band 2

Connolly Gallagher LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Charles Durante has a well-established practice in estate planning and administration, acting for individuals, families and closely held businesses. Sources say he is "a very knowledgeable and responsive attorney" with "a wealth of knowledge." Durante advises on strategies to transfer wealth and assets to the next generation, and also assists fiduciaries with the administration of existing structures.

^ Return to Top

Band 2

Kimberly Gill McKinnon

Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Kimberly Gill McKinnon is special counsel for the firm's trust, estates and tax group. She is held in high esteem by her peers in Delaware. One interviewee considers her to be "very efficient and very knowledgeable in the trusts area," and another says: "I find her to be excellent, pleasant, easy to work with and very knowledgeable about law." McKinnon advises affluent individuals and families on estate and trust planning, asset protection and business succession planning. Another Delaware source describes McKinnon as "very practical and an excellent draftsperson," adding: "I have always had a good experience when she is involved."

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Band 2

Gordon, Fournaris & Mammarella PA

From the Chambers HNW guide

Michael Gordon is viewed as the "young rising star of the firm," and has built a strong national practice with a focus on Delaware trusts law, particularly in the creation of dynasty trusts, asset protection trusts and the migration of trusts into Delaware. Gordon's fellow attorneys are impressed by his command of the details in complex cases. One lawyer comments: "He takes a pragmatic approach and gives a lot of attention to the technical aspects." "His work product is outstanding," says another wealth professional. Others highlight Gordon's ability to communicate these difficult legal concepts to clients. "He takes a common-sense approach and can bring things down to a level for clients to understand," reports one interviewee. "He doesn't bury the client with information – he takes complex scenarios and turns them into easy-to-understand information," says another, adding that they consider Gordon to be "the best attorney that I know."

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Band 2

Gordon, Fournaris & Mammarella PA

From the Chambers HNW guide

Daniel Hayward has a strong reputation for advising wealthy individuals and families about the creation and administration of Delaware trusts. One source says they consider him "a very competent, common-sense attorney. He is technically astute and he takes the time to listen – you don't feel like you are on a clock with him." As well as acting for wealthy individuals and families, Hayward also advises corporate and individual trustees on their fiduciary duties and represents them in litigation. "He has done an outstanding job," comments another wealth planning professional, adding: "He is efficient at explaining issues to clients."

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Band 2

Martin & Lunger

From the Chambers HNW guide

Will Lunger of Martin & Lunger has a well-regarded estate planning practice in Delaware. He is described by sources as "very strong and open-minded," as well as being "very bright and easy to work with." Lunger acts for individuals, families, and closely held business in personal estate planning. "I like Will," says one source, "he is very practical and smart in his interpretation and fairly conservative in his approach."

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Richard J A Popper

Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Sources say Richard Popper is "a really strong technical lawyer" who is "very bright and technically proficient." Popper has built a strong local practice, representing Delawareans in their tax, trust and estate planning matters. "He is brilliant," enthuses another source. "He is very adept at finding solutions to complex problems."

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Vincent C. Thomas

Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Vincent Thomas "is just brilliant," enthuses one source, adding: "He is like an encyclopaedia – he is so well read about the law and changes in it, he is like a fountain of information that you can rely upon." He complements his business planning and transactions practice with his trusts expertise, advising institutional trustees on the intricacies of administering Delaware trusts. Market insiders praise his client relationship skills and his problem-solving abilities. "He approaches the problem in a non-assuming manner, takes a fresh perspective and gives you your full options," says one interviewee. Another source comments: "He is a good listener, he understands the client and makes sure their needs are recognised. He is very skilled at drafting documents and he is very good at resolving issues in a non-confrontational manner." 

^ Return to Top

Band 2

Connolly Gallagher LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Gregory Weinig acts for both local and national clients on trust and estate planning matters. "He is very smart and very, very good," says one peer, and another commentator describes him as "a straight-shooter and a collegial worker." Weinig is experienced in working with dynasty, directed and asset protection trusts, and he also counsels institutional fiduciary on the administration of trusts. Interviewees also highlight his work on legislative reform in the trusts and estates space: "He is very active on the legislative front," says one; "I trust his opinion on legislation."

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Band 2

Gordon, Fournaris & Mammarella PA

From the Chambers HNW guide

Peers say Norris Wright is "an excellent attorney." Wright was formerly president and trust counsel at US Trust Company of Delaware. "He has vast experience as he previously worked in-house with trust companies in Delaware," comments a source. "He provides a different perspective for clients." Wright advises clients on estate planning and represents them in fiduciary litigation matters.

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