Russell J. Ressler

Russell Ressler


Russell (Rusty) Ressler is past chair of the trusts, estates & personal planning department. He represents high-net-worth individuals and families, individual and corporate fiduciaries, owners of closely held businesses, and numerous financial and nonprofit/charitable organizations in areas including: 

  • complex estate, tax, business succession and asset protection planning 
  • complex trust and estate administrations 
  • litigation involving trusts, estates, powers of attorney, guardianships and other fiduciary matters 
  • federal and state tax controversies at both the administrative and judicial levels 
  • planned charitable giving 
  • formation and governance of private foundations and other nonprofit organizations 
  • negotiating and drafting consignment and private sale agreements for artwork; and negotiating, drafting, and enforcing prenuptial, postnuptial and cohabitation agreements
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Representative Matters

Rusty has represented:

  • the owner of a large closely held business in connection with the creation of rolling grantor retained annuity trusts resulting in the gift-tax-free transfer of several million dollars in appreciated stock to dynasty trusts for descendants
  • the owner of a closely-held business and various private equity interests in connection with the creation of an intentionally defective grantor trust for “selling” appreciated company stock income tax-free to the long-term trusts to freeze the value of the stock and remove all future appreciation from the owner’s estate
  • the owner of various closely held businesses in the formation of a family limited partnership for asset management and enabling the discounting of significant gifts of limited partnership interests to long-term trusts for descendants 
  • the owner of oil and gas interests in the tax-efficient transfer of those interests to descendants
  • a client in the creation and funding of an irrevocable life insurance trust holding very large life insurance policies, the funding of which was leveraged through the creation and administration of numerous grantor retained annuity trusts 
  • various clients in the creation, funding and administration of supplemental needs trust for individuals with special needs
  • a client in negotiating multiple aircraft agreements
  • a client in negotiating artwork consignment agreements
  • a client in the successful resolution and conclusion of IRS audits involving exposure to significant gift tax liability relating to valuation methodology in connection with certain family limited partnership transactions
  • clients in various foreign bank account reporting infractions and IRS Voluntary Disclosure Programs
  • beneficiaries in the surcharge and removal action of an individual trustee who misappropriated funds
  • executors of a decedent’s estate in the surcharge of an individual who served as agent under power of attorney during the decedent’s lifetime 
  • a beneficiary in a surcharge of a corporate trustee and the successful change of corporate trust
  • a life estate beneficiary in litigation resulting in the breaking and dissolution of the family trust with charitable remaindermen
  • a corporate fiduciary in the successful out-of-state transfer of hundreds of deferred compensation plans held in trust form
  • various individual and corporate fiduciaries in significant court accounting actions
  • individuals in will contests and related controversies at both the probate and distribution levels
  • a significant religious organization in court proceedings concerning a $90 million cemeteries lease
  • brokerage firm clients in the successful defense of surcharge actions
  • financial institution clients in various interpleader actions
  • an educational institution in New Jersey Superior Court litigation to secure a significant bequest in a contested matter
  • individual and corporate clients in contested guardianship proceedings
  • various individual and corporate fiduciaries in complex multijurisdictional estate and trust administrations
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Bar Admissions
  • Pennsylvania
  • New Jersey
Court Admissions
  • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
  • New Jersey Supreme Court
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
  • U.S. Tax Court
  • J.D., cum laude, Western Michigan University - Cooley Law School
  • LL.M. in Taxation, Georgetown University Law Center
  • B.S., Pennsylvania State University

  • Chester County Bar Association
  • Montgomery Bar Association
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association
  • Philadelphia Bar Association
  • Philadelphia Estate Planning Council

Speaking Engagements

  • Presenter, “Tips for Making a Strong Impact with Your Philanthropic Dollars,” Impact100 Philadelphia’s Fall Education Program
  • Presenter, “Planning for a Successful Business Transition,” AssetMark Family Business Succession Retreat
  • Presenter, “Best Practices for Preparing the Next Generation for Governance & Wealth,” Stradley Ronon Seminar
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  • Pennsylvania Super Lawyers
  • The Best Lawyers in America
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In The Community

Rusty is on the board of directors of the Chester County Chamber of Business & Industry. He also serves on the boards and represents various other nonprofit entities, grant-making foundations and scholarship foundations.
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