Donna L. Courville

Donna L. Courville


Donna Courville is an estate planning attorney who helps individuals transfer wealth to their families, transition family businesses and leave charitable legacies. She is well-known in the Sacramento region as a leader in the nonprofit community who volunteers tirelessly, helps nonprofits grow, and listens carefully to her estate planning clients—creatively and competently helping them achieve their legacy goals—whatever they may be.

She focuses on tax planning to minimize taxes, has extensive expertise in post-death trust and estate administration, preparation of federal estate tax and gift tax returns and representation of fiduciaries. In addition, she assists clients in audit controversies with the IRS regarding federal estate tax returns. She does it all with a personal touch and never loses sight of the individuals and families—often blended families—at the heart of an estate.

Donna proudly hails from Texas, and is an adjunct professor for Texas Tech University of Law. She is known for her super-sized involvement in the community. Among her involvement are leadership roles with the nonprofits Meristem, Michael Ziegler Pride Industries Foundation, Sacramento Region Community Foundation and Granite Bay’s Bayside Church Business Ministry. Her efforts were recognized with the 2023 National Philanthropy Day Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year award.

“Donna is a cheerleader and a champion of the worthiest causes and inspires others to go beyond themselves to offer time, talents, energy and resources. The Sacramento region is indeed fortunate that Donna decided to move here many years ago.” –Chris Ann Bachtel

“I like being active in the community and at church. I have a son with autism, and I enjoy life through his eyes, constantly looking for things we can do together, which often involve ice cream and trips on Southwest Airlines.”


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 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.



National Philanthropy Day Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year, 2023

Sacramento Magazine Top Lawyer, 2016 – 2023

Northern California Super Lawyer, 2018 – 2023

Sacramento Business Journal Best of the Bar, 2016, 2018-2023

Bridge Builder Award, Sacramento Region Community Foundation, 2020-2023

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.



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


Sacramento County Bar Association Tax Symposium, Speaker


Texas Association of Counties, Judicial Education Sessions, Speaker


State Bar of Texas, Advanced Guardianship Seminar, Speaker


Dispute Resolution Center, Guardianship Symposium, Moderator and Speaker



Meristem, Chair and Board Member

Bayside Business Ministry, Steering Committee 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

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