Susan L Abbott

Susan L. Abbott

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PartnerChair, Tax Exempt Organizations, Co-Chair, Trusts & Estate Planning
Susan L. Abbott
+1 617 570 1787

Sue Abbott, a partner in Goodwin’s Trusts & Estate Planning practice, is the chair of the firm’s Exempt Organization group, and former chair of the firm's Higher Education practice. She focuses her practice on tax-exempt organizations, probate and trust law, and estate planning, with a particular emphasis on charitable planning. She advises tax-exempt organizations on issues related to their formation, operations and planned giving programs.

Susan has been recognized as a New England Super Lawyer and as a ”Top Woman of Law” by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. She has also received the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly’s Excellence in Pro Bono Award.


Susan works extensively with charitable organizations, helping them to incorporate and obtain tax-exempt status and advising on issues such as foreign charitable activity, political activity and lobbying restrictions, intermediate sanctions and the private foundation excise taxes. She also works with charitable organizations to structure and administer planned giving programs.

Susan works with individual clients to structure their estate plans and lifetime gift programs to best achieve their objectives, while reducing federal and state estate taxes. Her practice encompasses all areas of estate, gift, generation-skipping and income tax planning. She has worked with clients to structure a broad variety of charitable gifts, including charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, private foundations, charitable gift annuities and conservation restrictions. Susan also advises banks and trust companies regarding their trust programs and handles complex estate administration matters.

Her experience includes:

  • Leading the Goodwin team that set up and obtained 501(c)(3) status for the One Fund Boston, formed to benefit those most affected by the Boston Marathon bombings and related events
  • Advising New Profit, a nonprofit social innovation and venture philanthropy fund, on the organization’s role as a funder and intermediary in the nation’s largest financial investment in a pay for success (PFS) initiative
  • Advising Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution regarding the charitable gift of a deep-sea submersible by filmmaker James Cameron

Professional Activities

Susan is a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), a national elective organization of trust and estate attorneys. She serves on ACTEC’s Charitable Planning Committee and served two terms on the board of the ACTEC Foundation. She is a member of the Boston and American Bar Associations, as well as the Boston Estate Planning Council.

Susan is a past member of the Board of Trustees of Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education as well as the MCLE Estate Planning Curriculum Advisory Committee. She has served in various roles with the Tax-Exempt Organization Section of the Boston Bar Association and served as co-chair of the Estate Planning Committee of the BBA’s Trusts and Estates Section from 2010-2012. In 2004, Susan was selected to participate in the Boston Bar Association’s Public Interest Leadership Program.

Professional Experience

From 1995 through 1999, Susan was an associate at Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C., where she practiced in the fields of tax and estate planning. She served as a Senior Manager in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Wealth Transfer Solutions practice from 1999 through 2000.




Duke University School of Law

(magna cum laude)


Duke University


Williams College

(cum laude with honors in history)



  • Massachusetts
  • District of Columbia

Recognition & Awards

Susan is recognized by the Legal 500 US nationwide for her work in Education in 2023.

Susan has been recognized by The Best Lawyers in America Best Lawyers for her work in Nonprofit / Charities Law and Trusts and Estates 2022-2023.

Susan is recognized in U.S. News-Best Lawyers for her work in Trusts & Estates. She has been named as a New England "Super Lawyer" since 2010 and previously was named as a Super Lawyer "Rising Star”.

In 2013 she was honored as a "Top Woman of Law" by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly and in 2014 she received an "Excellence in Pro Bono" award from Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. Her work contributed significantly to the firm's receipt of the 2014 National Public Service Award from the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association.


Susan is a frequent speaker and author on charitable and estate planning topics at continuing legal education seminars and training programs for non-profit organizations. She co-chaired the MCLE Non-Profit Law Conference from 2019-2021. Her publications include:

  • “International Philanthropy,” Taxation of Exempts, May/June 2016
  • “Eye on the Prize – and the Rules: How Private Foundations Need to Structure Their Prize Programs,” Advancing Philanthropy, Fall 2015
  • “Creating a Disaster Relief Charity: The One Fund Boston Model,” Taxation of Exempts, Vol. 25, Issue 6, 2014
  • “Disaster Relief: The One Fund Boston Model,” Boston Bar Journal, Spring 2014
  • “Deathbed Opportunities,” Trusts & Estates Magazine, June 2007
  • “Ramifications for Estate Planners of the Phase Out of the Federal State Death Tax Credit: Boom, Bust or Unknown,” 38th Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning (2004) and 29 ACTEC Journal 26, Summer 2003
  • “Political Activity and Lobbying Rules for Section 501(c) Organizations” 15 Exempt Organization Tax Review 393, December 1996