Lexpert puts the spotlight on Toronto’s leading estate and personal tax planning lawyers based on the results of our comprehensive yearly peer review. For the complete list of Ontario’s most recommended estate litigation 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 is a senior partner and chair of the estates group at 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 and arbitration. Black 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. He is the author of Wills and Estates: Cases, Text, and Materials (3rd ed.) published by Emond Publishing. Black is also a past chair of the executive of the Ontario Bar Association’s trusts and estates section.
Clare E. Burns is a partner at WeirFoulds LLP. Her practice focuses on trusts, estates and capacity litigation. She has acted for estate trustees on passings of accounts seeking approval of commercial transactions involving assets with a value exceeding $1 billion. Burns has served as the children’s lawyer for the province of Ontario from 2003 to 2008 pursuant to an order-in-council appointment where she supervised more than 11,000 cases, including variations of trust, will challenges, passings of accounts, guardianships and all kinds of dependant’s relief matters. She has appeared in Ontario Superior Court, Court of Appeal for Ontario, Tax Court of Canada, Federal Court of Canada and Supreme Court of Canada. Burns is actively engaged in the profession and broader community. She has been a director of The Advocates' Society and vice-president of the National Association of Public Trustees and Guardians. Burns has taught estates, children’s law and trial advocacy at the University of Toronto Law School, Osgoode Hall Law School and the University of Western Ontario Law School.
Kelly A. Charlebois is partner at Miller Thomson LLP, where is the national leader of the estates and trusts litigation group and a contributing author to the firm’s publication Miller Thomson on Estate Planning. She is an experienced estate and trust litigator, with expertise in complex and multifaceted cases. Charlebois has successfully represented high-net-worth individuals, institutions, charitable organizations and governmental bodies in a variety of estates and trusts-related litigation, including in will challenges and interpretations, guardianship applications, dependant support applications, passing of accounts applications and proceedings involving breach of trust and breach of fiduciary duty. She also advises financial institutions and trust companies in relation to trustee issues, guardianships, powers of attorney and capacity matters. Charlebois regularly acts as counsel to estate trustees during litigation. She is a frequent speaker and writer on various estates and trusts-related topics.
Paul J. Gibney is a partner at Thorsteinssons LLP. He devotes his practice to 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. He also represents taxpayers in their dealings with the Canada Revenue Agency in the context of audits, appeals and voluntary disclosures. Gibney has served as policy advisor to the Minister of National Revenue in Ottawa in 1996 and 1997. In that capacity, he developed significant contacts within the CRA. Gibney has spoken at several conferences on tax matters, including the Canadian Tax Foundation Annual Tax Conference, the STEP Annual Conference and conferences presented by the Ontario Bar Association, the Strategy Institute, the Canadian Institute and the Osgoode Hall Law School Professional Development Programme. He has also served as an instructor for the bar admission course of the Law Society of Ontario, the CBA Tax Law for Lawyers Annual CLE, the CBA Will, Estate and Trust Fundamentals Course for Estate Practitioners and the Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants.
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. He is a certified specialist in estate and trust law and civil litigation. Hull is the co-author of Probate Practice (4th and 5th Edition, Carswell) and author of Power of Attorney Litigation (CCH), Challenging the Validity of Wills (1st and 2nd Edition, Carswell), and Advising Families on Succession Planning: The High Price of Not Talking. He is also co-editor of Feeney’s Canadian Law of Wills (4th Edition) by LexisNexis. Hull is a member of Canadian Bar Association and The Advocates’ Society and a former member of the executive of the trusts and estates section of the Ontario Bar Association, Toronto Lawyers Association, Halton County Law Association, Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners (STEP). He is a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), the American College of Trial Lawyers and The International Academy of Estate and Trust Law. Hull also maintains a mediation practice through Hull Estate Mediation Inc.
Melanie A. Yach is a partner and a member of the estates and trusts and tax groups at 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. She is also a member of the trusts and estates section of Ontario Bar Association, the Estate Planning Council of Toronto, the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP Canada) and The Advocates’ Society. Yach regularly chairs programs for professional and educational organizations, including the CBA’s intensive Will, Estate and Trust Fundamentals Program. She is the editor of and contributor to key developments in Trusts and Estates Law published by Thomson Reuters Canada. Yach holds the Trust and Estate Practitioner (TEP) designation.
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 holds the Trust and Estate Practitioner (TEP) designation and has been an active member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners for many years, currently serving as the group’s director and deputy chair. Blumenfeld is a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, past president of the Toronto Estate Planning Council and a member of the CBA and OBA trusts and estates, tax and charities sections, the Canadian Association of Gift Planners, the Conference of Advanced Life Underwriters, the Canadian Tax Foundation and The International Academy of Estate and Trust Law.
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 and lawyer at its global 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.
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 focuses on 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 Canadian Tax Foundation, Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners conferences, the Law Society of Ontario, the Ontario Bar Association and Canadian Association of Gift Planners. Hoffstein received the OBA’s Award of Excellence in Trusts and Estates and holds Family Enterprise Advisor (FEA) designation.
Margaret R. O’Sullivan
Law firm: O’Sullivan Estate Lawyers LLP
Year called to the bar: 1983
Margaret R. O’Sullivan is a partner at O'Sullivan Estate Lawyers LLP. She practises exclusively estate planning, including cross-border and multijurisdictional trust and estate matters, powers of attorney, advising executors, trustees and beneficiaries and administration of trusts and estates. O’Sullivan is the author of the Canada chapter on The Private Wealth & Private Client Review, 9th Edition (Law Business Research, September 2020) and the Canada chapter on International Succession Laws (Bloombury Publishing, August 2020). O’Sullivan is also a contributing author to Practical Law’s Private Client Global Guide 2019/20 (Thomson Reuters) and Lexis Practice Advisor Canada and Widdifield on Executors and Trustees (Carswell 2002). O’Sullivan is the recipient of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Founder’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in 2014 and the OBA’s Award of Excellence in Trust and Estate Law in 2013. She is a past deputy chair, director and member of council for STEP Worldwide, past chair of the professional standards committee of STEP Worldwide, past deputy chair of STEP (Canada) and past chair of editorial board for STEP Inside. She is also a member of the STEP cross-border estates global steering committee. O’Sullivan is a past chair of the trusts and estates section of OBA, fellow of American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and academician of The International Academy of Estate and Trust Law.
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 an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, teaching international taxation and taxation of real estate transactions. Roth speaks frequently at legal conferences on taxation issues and is the lead co-author of the textbook Canadian Taxation of Trusts (CTF, 2016). He is also an academician and council member of The International Academy of Estate and Trust Law, where he sits on the taxation committee and an international fellow of ACTEC. Roth has been designated a derivatives market specialist by the Canadian Securities Institute.
Corina S. Weigl is a partner at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, where co-leads the private client service group. She also chairs of the firm’s professional development committee, having been vice-chair of the business law section for many years. Her practice is focused on estate and family business succession planning. She develops customized strategies for wills, trusts and tools designed to protect a client’s property, such as domestic contracts. Weigl leverages legal and tax regimes to protect multijurisdictional property and family interests. She relies on a variety of tools to implement structures designed to facilitate a successful estate and business succession plan for clients. Weigl provides strategic advice to executors, trustees and beneficiaries on ongoing administration issues or when faced with estate litigation regarding fiduciary accounts. She also advises on charities and not-for-profit considerations, advising clients on legislative, tax and regulatory implications of their philanthropic goals.
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 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. Youdan is the co-author of Canadian Taxation of Trusts and The Law of Family Property and the editor of Equity, Fiduciaries and Trusts. He is a past president of The International Academy of Estate and Trust Law, member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners and fellow of the American College of Trust & Estate Counsel. Youdan was a professor at Western University’s Law School and the Osgoode Hall Law School.