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A Better Partnership

Carl W. Dufendach

Partner | Email

  • Grand Rapids

    t. +1.616.752.2136

    f. +1.616.222.2136

  • +1.866.533.3018 - ext. 2136


Carl Dufendach concentrates his practice in the areas of estate and trust planning and administration, tax and general corporate work, including working with closely held businesses. Carl has helped clients reach their objectives in everything from basic estate planning and guardianships to tax-saving trust arrangements, charitable gifts, trusts, foundations and supporting organizations, and sophisticated transfer and succession strategies.


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  • Duke University J.D. 1979 with distinction
  • Wheaton College 1975 with honors


  • 1979, Michigan


  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan in 1979
  • U.S. Tax Court in 1988

Bar Associations

  • American Bar Association
    Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section
  • State Bar of Michigan

Teaching and Lecturing

  • Instructor, Institute of Continuing Legal Education


  • Works with the owners of all types of closely held businesses to provide for continuation of business into the next generation
  • Assists fiduciaries of large estates in resolving complex disputes in a tax-wise manner
  • Provides trust and estate administration services

Honors & Awards

  • Named a Top Lawyer in Trusts and Estates, Grand Rapids Magazine, 2019-20
  • Private Wealth Law – Michigan, Chambers High Net Worth Guide, 2016-20
  • Named to Michigan Super Lawyers, 2006-Present 
  • Named the Best Lawyers' 2018 and 2015 Grand Rapids Trusts & Estates Lawyer of the Year
  • 2020 A Lawyer Helps Pro Bono Honor Roll, State Bar of Michigan
  • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell
  • Best Lawyers in America, Trusts and Estates, 2007-Present
  • Leading Lawyers Michigan, 2014-Present
  • Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, 2003-Present
  • Order of the Coif



  • Contributing author of Michigan Estate Planning Handbook, Michigan Institute for Continuing Legal Education, 1999-Present


Professional Affiliations

  • Christian Legal Society
  • Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce
    Small Business Council
  • West Michigan Estate Planning Council
  • American College of Trust and Estate Counsel

Community Affiliations

  • Beacon Hill at Eastgate
    Chair of Board of Trustees
  • Rockford Public Schools
    Board of Education, President (2000-01), Vice President (1999-00), Treasurer (1998-99), Secretary (2002-04); Trustee (1997-04)

Speaking Engagements

  • "Highlights of the 2009 Heckerling Institute," Lake Michigan Estate Planning Council, Grand Haven, Michigan, February 19, 2009


“He’s a calming influence. He’s emollient. If you have a difficult client situation and you want to introduce someone avuncular without being condescending, who seems like the client’s friend without being a therapist, he’s perfect to do that.”

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