Donna L. Courville

Practices

Estate Planning; Probate; and Trust Administration

Tax

Education

Texas Tech University School of Law, J.D., cum laude, 1994

Texas Tech University, B.B.A., Accounting, 1988

Bar Admissions

California

Texas

Certified Public Accountant (Texas)

Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization

Donna L. Courville

Donna L. Courville

Counsel

Donna Courville specializes in estate planning for individuals who want to transfer their wealth to their families, transition family businesses or leave charitable legacies. She focuses on tax planning to minimize estate, gift and income taxes and planning for blended families. Donna has extensive expertise in post-death trust and estate administration, preparation of federal estate tax and gift tax returns and representation of fiduciaries and beneficiaries in connection with probate litigation. In addition, she assists clients in audit controversies with the Internal Revenue Service regarding federal estate tax returns.

Donna was previously a Senior Attorney at McDonough Holland & Allen PC. Prior to moving to Sacramento, Donna was a partner with McCleskey, Harriger, Brazill & Graf L.L.P., in Lubbock, Texas. Donna is also currently an adjunct professor for Texas Tech University School of Law teaching guardianship law and previously teaching marital property and estate administration courses.

One of the most rewarding parts of the work I do is helping people give a portion of their estate to charity. It also engages the next generation in thinking of others. I almost always mention charitable giving when I meet with a client. It’s not just for the ‘Bill Gates’ of the world.

“I practice almost exclusively in the areas of estate planning and trust administration. I enjoy assisting clients in creating plans to benefit their loved ones while helping them to invest in charitable causes that mean a lot to them. It is an honor to work with multiple generations in our clients’ families and provide consistency, confidence and continuity for their legacies through excellent estate and tax planning services.”

I really enjoy being active in my community and at places like my church. I have a son with autism and I’m always looking for ways to enjoy life through his eyes. I actively look for things we can do together that we have in common and can build on which usually involves ice cream, airplanes and planning our next trip on Southwest Airlines.

Experience

Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Administration

  • Guided and provided counsel to an individual trustee in a trust administration that required the care and placement of over 20 horses and the sale of a family ranch homestead and farmland to create 6 endowments with 4 local charitable organizations.
  • Created a variety of donor-advised fund agreements for clients who have a passion for giving in collaboration with community foundations and/or other charitable organizations to assist the clients in creating a legacy gifts. Formed and terminated charitable remainder trusts, and advised clients in designing endowed and restricted gifts and establishing scholarships as part of the estate planning.
  • In less than three years from decedent’s death, probated estate in excess of $80 million, prepared federal estate tax return and Texas inheritance tax return, negotiated and settled audit with Internal Revenue Service and distributed and closed estate on behalf of Executor.
  • Drafted, negotiated and obtained court approval of a family settlement agreement involving an estate exceeding $4 million, including multiple tax planning trusts some of which were modified and involved ownership of more than 60 individual rental properties, commercial properties and ranches.
  • Represented conservator (and later executor) on behalf of the conservatee (decedent) in preserving remainder of estate for the conservatee’s long term care after the conservatee was defrauded of $650,000 in a pay telephone lease scam. Assisted in litigation pursuing lawsuit against salesmen.
  • Represented family business owners in succession planning for next generation of owners. Worked closely with family’s consultants and other professional advisors as part of a team to meet the clients’ needs and clarify family expectations.

Business Succession Planning

  • Represented family-owned grocery business in conversion from a corporation to a limited partnership for franchise tax benefits. Worked closely with national accounting firm as part of the family’s team of advisors to complete the conversion.

Involvement

Presentations

2018

Probate Academy for Judges, Texas Association of Counties, Speaker

2017

Sacramento County Bar Association Tax Symposium, Speaker

2015

Probate Academy for Judges, Texas Association of Counties, Speaker

2013

Dispute Resolution Center, Guardianship Symposium, Moderator and Speaker

2000—Present

Texas Tech University School of Law, Marital Property, Guardianships and Estates courses, Adjunct Professor

2006—2008

Texas Association of Counties, Judicial Education Sessions, Speaker

2007

State Bar of Texas, Advanced Guardianship Seminar, Speaker

Honors

Sacramento Magazine Top Lawyer, 2016 – 2021

Northern California Super Lawyer, 2018 – 2021

Sacramento Business Journal Best of the Bar, 2016, 2018-2019

Bridge Builder Award, Sacramento Region Community Foundation, 2013-2019

Recipient, Don Poole Award, Sacramento Region Community Foundation, 2015. Awarded for significant contributions to philanthropy in the region, the award was created to honor the advisor who embodies commitment to charitable causes, devotion to educating clients about charitable giving, and mentoring fellow advisors to support clients’ philanthropy.

Professional Associations and Memberships

Steering Committee and Member, Philanthropic Advisors Forum of Greater Sacramento

Member, Sacramento Estate Planning Council

Former Chair and Member, Sacramento County Bar Association – Probate and Estate Planning Section

Member, State Bar of California, Trusts and Estates Section

Member, State Bar of Texas, Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section

Former Member, State Bar of Texas, Advertising Review Committee

Former Member and Treasurer, Lubbock County Bar Association

Former Member and President, South Plains Trust & Estate Council

Community

Meristem, Secretary and Board Member

Michael Ziegler PRIDE Industries Foundation, Advisory Board Member

Sacramento Region Community Foundation, Former Board Chair and Member

Texas Tech University School of Law Foundation, Former Board Member

The Community Foundation of West Texas, Former President-Elect, Treasurer and Board Member