Alyson Graham is a Trust and Estate Specialist for Willis Investment Counsel (“WIC”), a 44-year-old independent investment management firm in Gainesville, Georgia, where she supports a holistic approach to wealth planning, working with clients, their families and their legal and tax advisors to help clients understand and achieve their estate and wealth planning goals. Prior to joining WIC in 2022, Alyson served as Senior Vice President and Head of Personal Trust Services at Ameris Bank. Prior to that, Alyson was in private practice for over 11 years, first with Stewart, Melvin & Frost, LLP in Gainesville, and then with Smith Gambrell & Russell in Atlanta, at each firm focusing her practice on estate and tax planning and trust and estate administration for high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals and their families. Alyson currently serves as Assistant Secretary of the Fiduciary Section of the State Bar of Georgia, and also serves on the Section’s Legislative and Code Revision Committees. She is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Southeast Fellows Institute of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and a member of the Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section of the Florida Bar. Alyson graduated magna cum laude from Georgia State University College of Law, and earned her LL.M. in taxation from New York University School of Law.
Tyson Willis is a senior associate at Arnall Golden Gregory in Atlanta, where his practice focuses on wealth transfer planning for ultra high net worth clients, charitable planning, and estate tax planning for carried and promoted interests. Tyson is a graduate of Brigham Young University and Harvard Law School. He received his LLM in taxation at New York University. He is a member of the Atlanta Estate Planning Council and is a frequent speaker and author on estate planning topics, including tax-efficient gifting, estate planning after the 2017 tax reform, and planning to minimize the impact of spousal elective share laws.
Shelly Donaldson serves as the Vice President and Business Development Officer based in Cumberland Trust’s Atlanta office. In her role, Shelly connects individuals, families and their financial, legal, and tax advisors with Cumberland Trust’s high caliber trust and estate administration services.
Shelly has been a practicing attorney for most of her career and has 14+ years of experience in estate planning, tax and corporate law —specializing in estate planning for high-net-worth clients and families. She has particular expertise in tax and estate planning involving real estate, closely held business entities and planning for a family member with a disability (Special Needs Planning).
Prior to joining Cumberland Trust, Shelly founded The Donaldson Law Firm following experience at other firms including Lefkoff, Duncan, Grimes, McSwain & Hass, P.C. and Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP.
Shelly served on the Executive Committee of the Georgia Bar Association Fiduciary Law Section and was a past chair of the Atlanta Bar Estate Planning and Probate Section and past board member for the Atlanta Estate Planning Council.
She is a current board member and secretary of the Atlanta Lab Rescue and on the Advisory Board for the Special Olympics of Georgia. She is also a past board member of AADD (now The Bobby Dodd Institute), a nonprofit that helps individuals living with a disability succeed at work, in the community and in life.
Shelly graduated cum laude from the Fredric G. Levin College of Law at the University of Florida, where she also served as an editor of the Law Review. She holds a B.B.A. in finance from Auburn University.
Robert C. Port is a partner with Gaslowitz Frankel LLC, Atlanta, Georgia. The firm focuses its practice on fiduciary litigation arising from disputes related to trusts, wills, estates, guardianships, conservatorships, partnerships, closely-held corporations, and securities and investment fraud.
Robert is a member of the Georgia and Tennessee Bars. He is admitted in the Northern, Middle, and Southern Federal Districts of Georgia, United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a member of the Georgia Bar, the Atlanta Bar Association, the American Bar Association (ABA), and the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (PIABA).
Robert is the Editor of “Georgia Business Litigation,” a one-volume, comprehensive guide to many of the issue business litigators often encounter, including officer, director, shareholder, partnership and LLC disputes; securities litigation; non-compete and trade secret issues; RICO; intellectual property issues; business torts; insurance liability; fraudulent transfers; employment litigation; and the ever-increasing use of arbitration.
Robert has litigated cases in federal and state courts in Georgia and throughout the country, as well as before NASD, FINRA, and AAA arbitration panels. He also serves as a FINA chair-qualified arbitrator, and has been appointed to the national roster of arbitrators for the Consumer Panel of the American Arbitration Association (AAA).
Robert is a frequent speaker on estate and trust litigation, securities litigation, and securities arbitration before a variety of audiences, including the Georgia Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE), the Atlanta Bar Association, The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), the Georgia Society of CPAs, and the National Business Institute (NBI), and the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (PIABA). He has also published numerous articles on fiduciary litigation, securities law, and other legal topics in the Georgia Bar Journal and other publications.
Robert attended the University of North Carolina, where he obtained a B.A., with Honors, in 1979, and a J.D., with Honors, in 1983. Following law school, he was a Law Clerk for Hon. Eugene N. Gordon, Senior United States District Court Judge for the Middle District of North Carolina.
Lauren Bryant graduated Magna cum laude from the University of Georgia in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. She attended Florida State University College of Law for the 2005-2006 school year, where she was a member of the Moot Court Team, the Journal of Transnational Law and Policy, and the Journal of Land Use and Environmental Law. Lauren transferred to Georgia State University College of Law in 2006 and received her Juris Doctor in 2008. After nearly 15 years with a small general practice law firm (which ultimately transitioned into an almost exclusively probate-focused firm), Lauren opened her own practice in late 2021 and continues to focus her work and advocacy on probate and estate planning matters.
Prior to law school, Lauren was a social worker and advocated for adults with developmental disabilities, while further solidifying her passion for advocacy and compassionate representation. In law school, Lauren worked as an intern for the Metro-Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, and the Georgia Advocacy Office, a non-profit specializing in assisting and advocating for individuals who are labeled as disabled or mentally ill. Her passion for advocacy led her to become a Guardian ad litem for numerous probate courts throughout the state (Gwinnett, Cobb, Fulton, Rockdale, Dekalb, White, and recently in federal court for the Northern District of Georgia), where she represents the interests of children and adults with special needs in varying litigation, guardianship and conservatorship, and probate matters. As of 2022, Lauren began work as a part-time judge for the Fulton County Probate Court, working to assist the Court with the backlog of cases resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. As a judge, Lauren is tasked with adjudicating both emergency and permanent guardianship/conservatorship cases.
Lauren received recognition from the Georgia Pro Bono Project in 2009 and 2010 for providing legal services for low-income Georgians. In 2014, Lauren was nominated by her peers and selected for inclusion in Georgia Trend’s annual publication, “Legal Elite”. In 2022, Lauren was selected as a Super Lawyers "Rising Star". Lauren has been a speaker and presenter at numerous CLE’s, covering topics pertinent to probate work and service as a Guardian ad litem.
Since beginning her career, Lauren has represented Georgia clients in countless probate matters, including emergency and permanent guardianships and conservatorships, compromise claims for minors and incapacitated adults, probate and estate administration, year’s support petitions, petitions to determine heirs, and numerous unusual probate matters. Lauren also has extensive experience drafting complex estate plans, and has a special passion for preparing special needs trusts.
Lauren is very tall, but she has never played basketball. She lives in Suwanee with her husband, three children, a cat, and a dog. In her free time, which is rare, she enjoys listening to true-crime podcasts, watching Unsolved Mysteries and British crime dramas, and scouting the local thrift stores.
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The information presented is solely for educational purposes. The opinions expressed by the faculty in their materials and presentations are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the State Bar of Georgia, its officers, directors and/or employees. The faculty is not engaged in rendering legal or other professional advice and these presentations and publications are not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. All publications and presentations were created to serve the continuing legal education needs of practicing attorneys.
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