James A. Goldsmith

Partner | Co-Group Leader, Trusts & Estates

Co-Group Leader of the Trusts & Estates Group, Jim’s clients benefit from his more than 35 years of experience in all aspects of trust and estate planning and administration and succession planning. He has counseled clients in matters involving disputes among beneficiaries and fiduciaries, as well as defending claims filed in state courts against both corporate and individual fiduciaries. He has also served as special counsel and an expert witness to others in matters involving estate planning and administration issues. His expertise also includes taxation, employee benefits, and corporate law. When developing tax-planning strategies for clients, he strives to reduce, defer, or eliminate the imposition of federal and/or state transfer taxes in connection with achieving estate-planning goals. Among other honors, he was named to The Best Lawyers in America©, Trusts and Estates and is a Fellow of the American College of Trusts and Estates Counsel.

Education & Admissions


  • University of Denver

    (B.S.B.A., Management, 1977)

  • Case Western Reserve University School of Law

    (J.D., 1980)


  • State of Ohio
  • State of Florida
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio
  • U.S. Tax Court



  • Has over 35 years of experience in handling all aspects of trust and estate planning and administration.
  • Counsels corporate and individual executors, personal representatives, and trustees on all matters relating to their duties and responsibilities as such.
  • Consults with counsel from other firms as an expert in assisting them in the handling of matters both in and out of the court system.
  • Counsels individuals and families in structuring various methods of achieving financial goals and the distribution of wealth, while minimizing the imposition of federal estate, gift, and generation skipping transfer taxes.
  • Designs and implements various estate planning arrangements for clients utilizing revocable and irrevocable trusts, family partnerships, and limited liability companies.
  • Consults with business owners to structure and implement business succession plans.

Publications & Presentations


  • “Top 10 Non-Tax, Non-Technical Planning and Administration Challenges,” Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association Bar Journal (December 2022)
  • “A Trustee Checklist: Deciding Who Should Serve, What They Do and How They Are Paid,” Probate Law Journal of Ohio (March/April 2010)
  • “When Should Equitable Adjustments Be Made?” Estate Planning Magazine (January/February 1992)


  • “Overview of the SECURE Act,” National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors Cleveland Webinar (September 2020)
  • “Planning in the Digital Age,” Ulmer Tax Seminar Series II (August 2018)
  • “How to Think Like a Donor,” 2017 Caritas Financial Nonprofit Summit (May 2017)
  • “A Trust Guide for Non-Trust Professionals,” Oswald Companies, Personal Lines Group (August 2015)
  • “Frequently Overlooked Estate Planning Issues Regarding Your Retirement Plans,”  Szarka Financial Management 401(k) Summit (July 2008)
  • Frequent speaker at professional seminars: Cleveland Bar Association Estate Planning Institute; Akron Bar Association Probate Law Seminar; and the Internal Revenue Service Cleveland District Directors’ Conference on Federal Wealth Transfer Taxation



  • American Bar Association (Taxation and Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section)
  • Ohio State Bar Association (Estate Planning and Probate Law Section)
  • Florida Bar Association (Estate Planning and Probate Law Section)
  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (Past Chair, Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law Section; Chair, 1992 Estate Planning Institute)
  • American College of Trust and Estate Counsel Fellow
  • Estate Planning Council of Cleveland
  • Cleveland Society of Estate Analysts


  • Joyce M. Stielau and Herbert W. Stielau Foundation (Co-Director)
  • Case Western Reserve University Estate Planning Advisory Council (Member)
  • Cleveland Advisory Board of Facing History and Ourselves (Board Member)
  • Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation (Trustee)
  • University Hospitals Diamond Advisory Group (Chair)
  • Canine Companions for Independence (North Central Region Fund Development Committee)
  • Menorah Park Foundation (Former Board Member)
  • Planned Lifetime Assistance Network of Northeast Ohio (PLAN) (Former Board Member)
  • Shaker Schools Foundation (Former Trustee)
  • Cleveland Chapter of the American Technion Society (Former Board Member and Co-Chair)
  • Shaker Historical Society (Former Board Member)
  • Oakwood Club (Former Board Member and Officer)
  • Suburban Temple (Member, Finance Committee; Former Board Member)
  • Shaker Youth Hockey Association (Former Board Member and President)
  • Finance Committee
  • Trusts & Estates, Co-Group Leader



  • Named to The Best Lawyers in America, Trusts and Estates; Litigation – Trusts and Estates (2001-2023)
  • Named to the Ohio Super Lawyers list (2004-2023)
  • Received the Estate Planning Council of Cleveland’s Distinguished Estate Planner Award (2022)
  • Received the Distinguished Advisor Award from University Hospitals (2019)
  • AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated – Martindale-Hubbell®
  • Named one of Northeast Ohio’s “100 Most Connected” by Crain’s Cleveland Business (2015)
  • Named a “Leading Lawyer” in Northeast Ohio in a survey of lawyers by Inside Business Magazine (2001-2011*) *2011 final year of survey
  • Named a “Top Lawyer” by Northern Ohio Live magazine (August 2003)