Dennis I. Belcher


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  • University of Richmond School of Law, JD, Manuscripts Editor, University of Richmond Law Review, 1976
  • The College of William & Mary, BA, 1973
  • Virginia
  • U.S. Tax Court

Member; House of Delegates 1998-1999; Chair, Real Property, Trust & Estate Law Section 2002-2003, American Bar Association 

Member; President 2009, American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, 1986-present

President, 1993-1996; Counsel, 1996-present; St. Christopher's School Foundation

Member; Board of Governors, 1993-2002; Chairman, Board of Governors, 1999-2002, St. Christopher's School

Counsel, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Inc., 1982-present

Member; Fellow, Virginia Bar Foundation

Board of Trustees, Southern Federal Tax Institute

Board of Trustees, American Civil War Museum


Our longtime partner and dear friend Dennis Belcher passed away on April 27 at age 65. A lawyer with McGuireWoods for 41 years, he co-led the firm’s Private Wealth Services Industry Team and was a nationally recognized visionary on trusts and estates and wealth management law. Dennis leaves an indelible legacy on our firm, our clients, the legal community and all who knew him. He will be greatly missed.

Dennis routinely represents high-net worth individuals, families and family offices on a variety of sensitive and complex estate and business planning matters. He also focuses his practice on estate and trust administration, charitable planning, and sensitive fiduciary litigation and dispute resolution.

Dennis is past president of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and was previously chair of the American Bar Association's Real Property, Trust & Estate Law Section. He is a member of the Advisory Committee and a frequent speaker at the Heckerling Institute of Estate Planning sponsored by the University of Miami School of Law, ALI-CLE estate planning seminars, and numerous other seminars. He is a trustee of the Southern Federal Tax Institute and a member of the advisory board of BNA Tax Management, Estate, Gifts and Trusts magazine. In addition, he has been listed in Town & Country magazine as one of the top 45 estate planning lawyers in the United States. In 2012 he was ranked #1 Virginia Super Lawyer.

For the past several years, Chambers & Partners has recognized Dennis in its national editions of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, where he was cited as "phenomenal" and known by his peers as being "technically excellent with good judgment," with another client saying, "he's the sort of guy you want in the trenches with you." McGuireWoods' Private Wealth Services Group is one of only two law firms in the country to receive Chambers' highest national ranking for wealth management.

He has testified before the Senate Finance Committee on estate tax reform and the House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures on patenting of tax strategies. On several occasions, Dennis has been called upon to offer analysis for a number of national publications, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Time magazine, USA Today, Worth magazine, Trusts and Estates magazine, the American Bar Association Journal, Fidelity Investor's Weekly, Business Week, The Daily Tax Report, Bloomberg magazine, and National Underwriter.

While attending the University of Richmond School of Law, Dennis was a member of the McNeill Law Society. As an undergraduate, he was president of Omicron Delta Kappa at The College of William & Mary.

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Dennis I Belcher
T: +1 804 775 4304F: +1 804 698 2012Gateway Plaza
800 East Canal Street
Richmond, VA 23219-3916
T: +1 703 712 5324F: +1 703 712 50501750 Tysons Boulevard
Suite 1800
Tysons, VA 22102-4215

Representation of trustees of a very large, high profile estate administration with high complexity, including sale of NFL football franchise, litigation, and resulting foundation representation.

Representation of high visibility client in a divorce proceeding.

Tax planning for ultra high net worth individuals and corporate executives.

Representation of trustees and beneficiaries in high profile complex litigation.

Representation of clients with family businesses in succession planning.

Named a "Divorce, Trusts and Estates Trailblazer," The National Law Journal, 2016

Named a “Notable Practitioner,” Private Wealth Law, Band 1, District of Columbia and US Nationwide, Chambers HNW Guide, 2016

Named one of 35 "Most Influential Lawyers," National Law Journal, 2011

National Estate Planning Council Hall of Fame, 2011

Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, Litigation-Trusts and Estates, Trusts and Estates, Woodward/White, Inc., 1987-2012, 2014-2017

Named "Lawyer of the Year," Trusts & Estates, Richmond, Best Lawyers, 2011, 2012

Selected for inclusion in America's Leading Lawyers for Business, Wealth Management: Eastern Region, Nationwide, Chambers USA, 2008-2011, 2013-2016

Named to "Virginia Super Lawyers," Estate Planning and Probate, Tax, Estate and Trust Litigation, Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2006-2017

Named to "Legal Elite," Private Wealth Services, Virginia Business, 2001-2006, 2009-2016

Named to "Top 45 Trusts and Estates Lawyers," Town & Country, August 1999

Listed as one of the top 60 trusts and estates lawyers in the United States, Bloomberg Personal Finance, 1999

Co-author, "IRS Settlement With Carmex Owners Is Surprising," Law360, April 14, 2016
Co-author, "United States v. Estate of Grace: Seeking a More Objective Test For the Application of the Reciprocal Trust Doctrine," ACTEC Law Journal, The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, Volume 42, Number 1, Spring 2016
Co-author, Making Sense of the 2010 Estate Tax Legislation, CCH, June 2011
Co-author, "Estate Tax Deferral, Planning Now and Being Prepared Later," ABA Trusts & Investments Magazine, March – April 2008
Speaker, "How to Protect Gifts, Trusts, and Inheritances from a Beneficiary’s Divorcing Spouse," 11th Annual Fiduciary Advisory Services Seminar, 2016
Faculty Speaker, "Recent Developments," Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008-2015
Speaker, Recent Developments, Baker Tilley Virchow Krause, June 24, 2015
Faculty Speaker, "Private Trust Companies," Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning, 2009
Faculty Speaker, "Section 6166," Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning, 2008
Faculty Speaker, "Responsibilities and Duties of a Delegating or Directed Trustee," Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning, 2007
FLPs & LLCs in Recent Cases, September 29, 2009