Don Cairns has concentrated his practice in trusts and estates for more than forty years. He became a Director and Shareholder at Spieth, Bell, McCurdy & Newell in July of 1995, after having been a partner for many years at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, a large multi-national Cleveland-based firm. Spieth, Bell, McCurdy & Newell Co., L.P.A. became Schneider Smeltz Spieth Bell LLP in 2016, as two of the oldest and most established law firms in Cleveland combined.
Mr. Cairns has implemented many sophisticated estate plans, involving individuals at all ranges of personal net worth, from over $1 billion dollars to modest net worth. He prepares wills, trust agreements, and other estate planning documents. He also advises in the administration of trusts and estates including the preparation of federal and state estate tax returns and fiduciary income tax returns.
His practice also includes preparing and serving as trustee of charitable lead and remainder trusts, private foundations, complex multi-generation trusts, and marital deduction and "by-pass" trusts. He has also had experience in estate and trust investment performance analysis.
Mr. Cairns has served as an expert witness in trust and estate matters, including conflicts of interest among multiple clients, legal malpractice in estate planning, trustee distribution issues, and trustee investment diversification issues such as the Ruth Lilly Charitable Trust litigation described at: http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/10190602jgb.pdf.
He is a member of the Ohio and Florida Bars. He is certified in Ohio as a Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law, and in Florida as a Board Certified Estate Planning and Probate lawyer emeritus. He received his A.B. degree from Harvard College and his J.D. degree from The Ohio State University College of Law. He is a member of The Order of the Coif and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Ohio State Law Journal.
Mr. Cairns has spoken at estate planning programs for the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, Heckerling Estate Planning Institute, Cleveland Estate Planning Institute, Notre Dame Estate Planning Institute, Cleveland Regional Tax Institute, and various Estate Planning Councils. He also serves on the Advisory Committee for the Heckerling Estate Planning Institute from 1992 to the present. Designated Best Lawyer in America (more than 20 year period). Fellow: American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (Member of its Estate and Gift Tax Committee, and a past member of its Board of Regents and its Technology Committee).
Fellow, American College of Trust & Estate Counsel
Ohio State Bar Association, Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law