Patti S. Spencer

Patti is a trusts and estates attorney. Nationally recognized as an author and educator, she will teach a course on trust and estate planning, administration, and settlement, and how to leverage technology to build this practice area at Solo Practice University®.

Ms. Spencer assists clients with federal estate, gift and generation-skipping tax planning; estate and trust administration; business succession planning; tax planning for qualified plan distributions; fiduciary income tax; and corporate tax planning. She serves as a Private Trustee and/or Executor, as well as an expert witness in estate tax, estate planning, and fiduciary matters. Her clients include consumers, accountants and other attorneys.

As a peer-nominated fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel Ms. Spencer has been recognized by the legal profession for her educational commitment and her work with families, individuals, businesses, attorneys and accountants she serves.

Before founding Spencer Law Firm , Ms. Spencer managed a regional bank’s Personal Trust Department made up of 1,500 accounts and $400 million in assets. In this capacity, she supervised a department of nine Trust Officers and six Assistant Administrators in three line functions: Trust Administration, Trust Tax and Estate Settlement. She was accountable for trust department budgets, profitability, regulatory compliance, trust real estate, personnel issues, and estate-related legal matters.

Books and Publications by Patti S. Spencer, Esq.

Ms. Spencer is a prolific writer on trust and estate matters. Her major publications are listed below.

Pennsylvania Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts Library: Forms and Practice Manual,” 2-volume set published by Data Trace, 2007. Topics covered include estate planning, simple wills, generation-skipping transfer tax, revocable living trusts, credit shelter/bypass trusts, irrevocable trusts, and charitable gift planning.

Your Estate Matters,” AuthorHouse, 2005, 476 pages. This book serves as an authoritative guide to estate planning, tax matters and financial strategies for long-term management of personal, family and closely-held business assets.

Ms. Spencer also writes “Taxing Matters,” a weekly column on tax and estate planning issues published in the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal, from October 1999 to the present.

She maintains two active blogs on trust and estate topics: Pennsylvania Fiduciary Litigation and Pennsylvania Estate Planning and Administration .

Additionally, she has published a number of journal and magazine articles on trust and estate topics.

Education and Accreditations

Ms. Spencer holds a J.D. and an LL.M in Taxation from Boston University School of Law, and a B.A. from Dickinson College. She is licensed to practice law in the states of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.


I. Estate and Gift Tax – an overview of the federal transfer tax system which will allow you to identify estate planning objectives, become familiar with estate planning techniques, and spot issues.

A. Federal Estate Tax
B. Federal Gift Tax
C. Federal Generation-skipping Tax
D. State Death Taxes
E. Overview of tax software

II. Estate Planning – grounding in basic techniques and introduction to more complex planning options

A. Basic Planning
1. Meeting with and getting information from the client
2. Wills
3. Powers of Attorney
4. Medical Power of Attorney and Living Wills
B. Revocable Trusts – The Great Debate: To Avoid Probate or Not to Avoid Probate
C. Trusts for specific purposes
1. Trusts for Minors
2. Special Needs Trusts
3. Spendthrift Trusts
4. Credit Shelter or By-Pass Trusts
5. Marital Deduction Trusts
6. Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts
D. More Complex Techniques
1. Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRATs and CRUTs)
2. Charitable Lead Trusts (CLTs)
3. Dynasty Trusts or Generation-Skipping Trusts
4. Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts (IDGTs)
5. Family Limited Partnerships (FLPs)
6. Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs)

III. Drafting and Document Assembly – producing complete, understandable, quality documents

A. How to use Forms
B. Document Assembly Software
C. Explaining to the Client
D. Procedures for execution, copies, and safe-keeping originals

IV. Estate and Trust Administration – How to settle the estate.

A. Checklist of administration duties and deadlines
B. Probate procedures
C. Fiduciary Income Tax
D. Fiduciary Accounting
E. Creditors Claims
F. Risk management
G. Administration software
H. Practice management software