Clifford R. Cohen



Cliff Cohen has broad experience in trust law and estate planning and administration for estates with complex assets, distribution schemes, and tax issues. He counsels individuals, couples, and families on structuring their assets for use during their lives and for their beneficiaries in the future. He has supervised and served as a fiduciary on many substantial estates and continuing trusts.  He also advises professional and non-professional fiduciaries alike on all aspects of trust and estate administration.

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J.D., Northeastern University School of Law, 1989

B.A., magna cum laude, Hofstra University, 1975



U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts

honors & awards

AV® Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbel

The Best Lawyers in America© Best Lawyer, Trust and Estates (2015-2024)

Massachusetts Super Lawyers (2004, 2014-2019)

community involvement

Congregation Dorshei Tzedek

  • Board Member and Treasurer (2014-2018)


  • Planned for the interests of three, even four, generations of extended families.
  • Helped structure and execute the transition of many businesses to the next generation.
  • Dealt with the estate plans of persons of all ages, health statuses and varying competencies.
  • Overseen the liquidation and distribution of estates consisting of illiquid assets, especially real estate.
  • Advised persons threatened by potential liabilities.
  • Worked with many existing advisory teams such as accountants, financial professionals and consultants.
  • Brought difficult and prolonged estate tax audits and controversies to successful conclusions.
  • Guided many trustees, both individual and corporate, personal representatives and other fiduciaries through complex estate and trust administrations, dispute and law changes.
  • Reformed and modified many existing trusts to better reflect changed circumstances, negative tax consequences or deficient provisions.
  • Counseled clients on charitable planning and gifts.
  • Drafted highly complex trust provisions involving family real estate and other hard-to-plan-for assets.


American Bar Association

Boston Bar Association

Boston Estate Planning Council

Boston Probate & Estate Planning Forum

  • Moderator (2011-2012)
  • Program Chair (2010-2011)


“Important Ruling for Residents of Massachusetts Owning Assets in Other States and Countries,” Burns & Levinson National Estate Planning Awareness Week 2016 Update, October 2016

“IRS Proposes Regulations That Will Eliminate Most Valuation Discounts on Family-Owned Entities,” Burns & Levinson Trusts & Estates Update, August 2016

“Charitable Masterpieces: Tips for Artists and Collectors Seeking to Donate Art to Museums,” Boston Spirit Magazine, September/October 2015

“Postmortem Estate Planning,” MCLE A Practical Guide to Estate Planning in Massachusetts, September 2015

“Important Estate and Gifting Features of the American Taxpayer Relief Act,” Burns & Levinson Trusts & Estates Update, January 2013

“The Vacation Home Conundrum,” Boston Spirit Magazine, September/October 2012

“Massachusetts Passes Uniform Trust Code,” Burns & Levinson Trusts & Estates Update, August 2012

“The New Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code,” Burns & Levinson Trusts & Estates Update, April 2012

“Hurry, This Offer May Not Last! It’s Time to Use the Increased Estate/Gift/Generation-Skipping Transfer Exemptions,” Burns & Levinson Focus Newsletter, Winter 2012

“Massachusetts Expands Protections for Homeowners,” Burns & Levinson Client Update, June 2011

speaking engagements

“Fiduciary Account Nightmares,” Faculty, MCLE Webcast Seminar, October 2018

“Estate Planning, Probate, & Estate Litigation,” Speaker, Newton Community Education Course, May 2017

“Pre- and Post-Nups, Pfannenstiehl, and More: Family Business and Divorce,” Co-Presenter, Family Firm Institute New England Chapter Breakfast, February 2016

“‘Rain Man’ 25 Years Later: How Autism Perception and Treatment Have Changed,” Moderator, Trusts & Estates Seminar, June 2014

“Legal Planning to Protect the Family Business: Divorce, Incapacity, and Bad Behavior,” Presenter, Family Firm Institute New England Chapter Breakfast, May 2014

“DOMA Post-Windsor: Marriage, Parentage, and Estate Planning,” Speaker, Estate Planning Council of Cape Cod Seminar, March 2014

“Modern Families: Effective Advocacy for Lesbian & Gay Clients,” Panelist, MCLE Program, July 2013

“Same Sex Estate Planning and Family Law Issues,” Speaker, Northeastern School of Law, November 2011

“Business Succession Planning,” Co-Presenter, Boston Society of Structural Engineers, November 2006