Cathleen C. Opel

Cathleen C. Opel

Counsel

Contact Info

Phone: (410) 332-8615
Fax: (410) 332-8167

Primary Office

Baltimore
500 E. Pratt Street
Suite 900
Baltimore, MD 21202-3133

Cathleen C. Opel

Counsel

Cathleen understands that planning for the future requires action in the present. With a talent for making estate planning concepts understandable and a commitment to achieving a client's objectives through a finalized estate plan, Cathleen provides counsel to individuals and families on all aspects of estate management, including - document preparation (wills, trusts - including special needs trusts, asset protection strategies, gifting, prenuptial agreements, powers of attorney and advance medical directives), estate and trust administration, family business succession planning, dispute avoidance and resolution, and fiduciary and probate litigation.

Bringing experience and perceptiveness to the process, Cathleen is highly effective in dealing with the complex, and sometimes competing, issues involved in estate planning - balancing the need of the client to preserve the family assets against the need of the client to preserve the family relationships. Cathleen's sensitivity to family dynamics at the estate planning phase, particularly in cases of second marriages and family-owned businesses, is an added benefit to a client who anticipates and wants to avoid a will challenge.

A sought after speaker, Cathleen regularly presents on estate planning and probate topics, and provides leadership on the evolving requirements for estate planning in a population that is living longer and must now consider the implications of lengthy late-life capacity.

Experience

  • Not wanting the legacy of a vacation home to become a legacy of conflict, Cathleen conducted family meetings and had open discussions at the estate planning phase to structure an estate plan that successfully transferred the family vacation home from one generation to the next to the mutual satisfaction of all at the client's subsequent death.
  • Knowing that stability is critical to the survival of a family business, Cathleen administered and closed an estate valued at $10M+ consisting of numerous family-owned business entities in less than a year. Involved complex estate administration and estate and income tax issues attendant with Subchapter S Corporations and LLC interests and emerging testamentary trusts as new shareholders. Expeditious estate administration was the result of a successful coordination of family business lawyers, business accountant, and family member business owners.
  • Utilizing the only silver lining that comes with knowing that death is imminent, Cathleen prepared an estate plan for a terminally ill client that achieved his goal to minimize taxes and pass the maximum to his children. Through gifting and retirement account conversions, Cathleen was able to reduce the client's assets just enough to avoid the Maryland Estate Tax, but not impoverish the client should his health improve. By using beneficiary designations and title as estate planning vehicles, avoided probate of the client's estate and allowed assets to pass promptly to client's children at his death. Pre-planning the client's funeral arrangements removed this decision-making burden from the children, who were greatly appreciative of their father's forethought.
  • Recognizing the early signs of physical and mental decline in a long-time client with no close family members to assist him, Cathleen prepared a Living Trust for the client and served as the trustee to manage the client's financial matters, including the payment of his bills, overseeing his caregivers, and assisted with representing him before the IRS for back taxes owed.

Thought Leadership

No results.

November 26, 2003
Life Settlements: Breathing New Life into an Old Life Insurance Policy

No results.

No results.

Credentials and Accolades

Honors and Awards

Recipient of the Bar Association of Baltimore City Presidential Award, 2013

Memberships and Affiliations

Member, American Bar Association

Member, Maryland State Bar Association

Member, Baltimore Estate Planning Council

Committee Member, The Greater Maryland Chapter Alzheimer’s Association, Baltimore

Senior Legal Services Committee, a joint program of the Bar Association of Baltimore City and the Baltimore Bar Foundation

  • Co-Chair, 2008 to 2019
  • Committee Member, 2003 to 2019

Board of Directors, Fairwinds Beach Club, Inc., 

Contributing author and lecturer, National Business Institute

Education

J.D., University of Maryland School of Law, 2001, with honors

  • Order of the Coif
  • Associate Editor, Maryland Law Review
  • Edward H. Curlander Prize for Estate Planning
  • Bridgewater M. Arnold Prize for Commercial Law

B.A., University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 1977

Bar Admissions

Maryland
United States Supreme Court

Clerkships

Judge Glenn T. Harrell, Jr., Court of Appeals of Maryland

Cathleen understands that planning for the future requires action in the present. With a talent for making estate planning concepts understandable and a commitment to achieving a client's objectives through a finalized estate plan, Cathleen provides counsel to individuals and families on all aspects of estate management, including - document preparation (wills, trusts - including special needs trusts, asset protection strategies, gifting, prenuptial agreements, powers of attorney and advance medical directives), estate and trust administration, family business succession planning, dispute avoidance and resolution, and fiduciary and probate litigation.

Bringing experience and perceptiveness to the process, Cathleen is highly effective in dealing with the complex, and sometimes competing, issues involved in estate planning - balancing the need of the client to preserve the family assets against the need of the client to preserve the family relationships. Cathleen's sensitivity to family dynamics at the estate planning phase, particularly in cases of second marriages and family-owned businesses, is an added benefit to a client who anticipates and wants to avoid a will challenge.

A sought after speaker, Cathleen regularly presents on estate planning and probate topics, and provides leadership on the evolving requirements for estate planning in a population that is living longer and must now consider the implications of lengthy late-life capacity.

Experience

  • Not wanting the legacy of a vacation home to become a legacy of conflict, Cathleen conducted family meetings and had open discussions at the estate planning phase to structure an estate plan that successfully transferred the family vacation home from one generation to the next to the mutual satisfaction of all at the client's subsequent death.
  • Knowing that stability is critical to the survival of a family business, Cathleen administered and closed an estate valued at $10M+ consisting of numerous family-owned business entities in less than a year. Involved complex estate administration and estate and income tax issues attendant with Subchapter S Corporations and LLC interests and emerging testamentary trusts as new shareholders. Expeditious estate administration was the result of a successful coordination of family business lawyers, business accountant, and family member business owners.
  • Utilizing the only silver lining that comes with knowing that death is imminent, Cathleen prepared an estate plan for a terminally ill client that achieved his goal to minimize taxes and pass the maximum to his children. Through gifting and retirement account conversions, Cathleen was able to reduce the client's assets just enough to avoid the Maryland Estate Tax, but not impoverish the client should his health improve. By using beneficiary designations and title as estate planning vehicles, avoided probate of the client's estate and allowed assets to pass promptly to client's children at his death. Pre-planning the client's funeral arrangements removed this decision-making burden from the children, who were greatly appreciative of their father's forethought.
  • Recognizing the early signs of physical and mental decline in a long-time client with no close family members to assist him, Cathleen prepared a Living Trust for the client and served as the trustee to manage the client's financial matters, including the payment of his bills, overseeing his caregivers, and assisted with representing him before the IRS for back taxes owed.