J. William Gray Jr. Counsel

Bill's practice focuses on nonprofit, tax-exempt and charitable advisory services, estate planning, charitable giving, trust and estate administration, and fiduciary litigation.

Bill is a frequent speaker in state and national programs, including those sponsored by professional groups, the Nonprofit Learning Point, the University of Richmond Institute of Philanthropy, and various community groups, on such topics as charitable giving, estate planning, forming nonprofits, lobbying and advocacy, and ongoing compliance issues.

He is a founding director and former president of the Virginia Gift Planning Council, a director of the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners, and a Fellow of the American College of Trust & Estate Counsel. Bill also serves on the Virginia Bar Association committee that reviews and drafts state legislation pertaining to trusts and estates, and he has published annual updates on trusts and estates legislation and Virginia Supreme Court decisions for over thirty years.


Formed numerous charities, business leagues, social welfare organizations, title-holders and other exempt entities, and obtained federal, state and local tax exemptions for them.

Assisted charities in obtaining definitive or advance rulings on public charity status and regaining that status after tentative adverse rulings by the IRS.

Advised private foundations on applicable reporting criteria, self-dealing prohibitions, income distribution rules, investment restrictions, expenditure limitations and termination guidelines, as well as the substantial excise taxes used to enforce them.

Counseled charities on planned giving, gift acceptance policies, professional fundraiser contracts, donor advised funds, state solicitation rules, charitable deduction substantiation issues, non-deductibility standards and other tax reporting and disclosure issues.

Created exempt and taxable affiliates for hospitals, educational institutions, trade associations and other exempt entities; advised on unrelated business tax issues and structured joint ventures and commercial co-ventures with other exempt organizations and for-profit entities.

Advised charities and their directors on private inurement and intermediate sanctions issues, uses of endowments and other restricted gifts, and questions involving corporate governance and fiduciary duties.

Advised business clients on rules governing their commercial transactions with charities, trade associations and other tax-exempt parties.

Addressed client and professional groups on such topics as planned giving, unrelated business income tax, intermediate sanctions, private foundations and alternatives, wills and trusts, augmented estate and probate rules, and fiduciary duty issues.

Advised charities on rules governing investment and expenditure of endowments and other restricted funds and secured the release or modification of outmoded restrictions.

Advised individual clients on transfer tax reduction, probate avoidance, post-mortem planning with disclaimers and elections, and suits to construe or modify wills and trusts.

  • University of Virginia School of Law, JD, Editorial Board, Virginia Law Review, Dillard Fellow , 1977
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, BS, Industrial Engineering, 1973

Fellow, The American College of Trust & Estate Counsel

Member, National Board of Directors, National Association of Charitable Gift Planners

Founding Director and Former President, Virginia Gift Planning Council

Director (Chair 2008-2011), Virginia Network of Nonprofit Organizations (VANNO), 2006-2011

Member, American Bar Association, Taxation Section, Exempt Organizations Committee; Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section

  • Speaker, "Planned Giving," University of Richmond Institute on Philanthropy, Richmond, VA, annually since 2014
  • Speaker, "Virginia Developments Affecting Trusts and Estates," Virginia CLE Advanced Estate Planning and Administration Seminar, annually since 1984
  • Speaker, Hot Topics and Best Practices : North Carolina Continuing Care Retirement Communities , May 21, 2019
  • Speaker, "Hot Topics for Nonprofits", "2017 Tax Act Changes Affecting Nonprofits", "Charitable Giving after the 2017 Tax Act" and "Effective Advocacy for Change: Understanding the Tax Boundaries," 16th Annual Nonprofit Seminar, October - November 2018
  • Speaker, "Tax Reform and the Impact on Tax-Exempt Organizations," Essential Insight on Sweeping Tax Reforms, February 1, 2018
  • Speaker, "Issues in Charitable Planning and Administration," New Developments in Wealth Planning, McGuireWoods LLP Complimentary Seminar, October 24, 2017
  • Panelist, Tax Reform Behind the Headlines: Challenges and Opportunities for Charities, McGuireWoods LLP Webinar, June 6, 2017
  • Speaker, "50 Ways to Lose Your Deduction," Virginia Gift Planning Council, Richmond, VA, March 23, 2017
  • Speaker, "Forming and Advising Nonprofit Organizations," Virginia CLE Advanced Estate Planning and Administration Seminar, Hot Springs, VA, April 30, 2016
  • Speaker, "News for Charities and their Donors," Joint Meeting of the Roanoke Valley Estate Planning Council and the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning of the Blue Ridge, Roanoke, VA, November 3, 2015
  • Speaker, "Charitable Giving," Greater Richmond Bar Foundation, Richmond, VA, October 28, 2015
  • Speaker, "Importance of Gift Agreements," Virginia Higher Education Foundations’ Chief Executive Officers Third Annual Conference, Richmond, VA, June 3, 2015
  • Speaker, "Nonprofit Directors’ Duties: Protecting Yourself and Your Charity," Davenport’s 2015 Institutional Summit, Richmond, VA, May 7, 2015
  • Speaker, "Strategies and Techniques for Planned Giving," Institute on Philanthropy, Planned Giving Institute at University of Richmond, Richmond, VA, March 23, 2015
  • Speaker, "The Ethics & Legalities of Community Foundation Operations," 2014 Philanthropy West Virginia Annual Conference, Glade Springs, WV, November 6, 2014
  • Speaker, "Non-Profits and Associations Forum: Cutting through the Complexities Making Cooperative Ventures Work," Washington Metropolitan Area Corporate Counsel Association (WMACCA) Webinar, Washington, DC, July 31, 2014
  • Speaker, "Form 990 Workshop," Central Virginia Academy for Nonprofit Excellence, Lynchburg, VA, May 8, 2014
  • Speaker, "Strategies & Techniques for Planned Giving," – full-day session at Institute on Philanthropy, Planned Giving Institute, Richmond, VA, March 29, 2014
  • Speaker, "UPMIFA: The Best Friend Most Charities Don’t Know They Have [and How to Use It]," Partnership for Philanthropic Planning of the Blue Ridge, Roanoke, VA, February 14, 2014
  • Virginia

Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, Non-Profit/Charities Law, Tax Law, Trusts and Estates, Woodward/White, Inc., 2018-2019

Selected for inclusion in “Super Lawyers,” Virginia Super Lawyers magazine, 2008-present

Selected for inclusion in “Legal Elite,” Virginia Business magazine, 2006-present

Leaders in the Law, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, Class of 2015

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