John L. Garrett

With 35 years of experience in the firm's Private Clients group, John Garrett represents executors, trustees and other fiduciaries in connection with the administration of decedents' estates and trusts. He also helps clients and their families with wealth management and planning for the transfer of family wealth from one generation to the next, with a particular emphasis on accomplishing wealth transfers in a tax efficient manner. John has been with the firm since 1978 and a partner from 1987-2013.

What do you focus on?

The focus of my practice relates to wealth transfer, often through multiple generations of a family. That requires a keen understanding of the client’s goals and aspirations as well as the unique needs of their family. Structuring an estate plan is all about that.

Commonly there is a strong desire to reduce or eliminate taxes, whether they be income, gift, estate or generation skipping transfer taxes. Consequently, a variety of planning techniques are recommended and implemented to accomplish the intended tax objectives. As the tax laws change and evolve, the particular planning strategies evolve. From my perspective, though, tax planning strategies need to work within the context of achieving the overriding family goals. Achieving effective tax results often is at odds with the way the federal and state tax authorities see the world, so I am routinely working with the Internal Revenue Service and state tax authorities to assure them that positions taken by clients are legally sound. Thus, I routinely counsel clients through audits.

Another aspect of my practice relates to charitable giving, primarily to help clients achieve their philanthropic goals, but also because a variety of transfer tax benefits can be obtained when charitable giving is combined with transferring one’s wealth to other family members.

What do you see on the horizon?

They say there are two constants in this world: death and taxes. While that may be true, certainly the world of taxes is forever changing. Similarly, the circumstances of our lives evolve and change as the years go by, including our responsibilities to our families and community. My role is to keep current with my client’s changing circumstances and to help them plan to address those changes.


John L. Garrett

Senior Counsel


Phone: 585-263-1271

Fax: 866-947-0927

Albany Law School of Union University, J.D.

Middlebury College, B.A.

New York

U.S. Tax Court

John was selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2019 in the field of Trusts and Estates. John has been listed in Best Lawyers since 2013.

John has received an AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rating™ from Martindale Hubbell®, the highest possible rating for ethics and legal ability.

John Garrett is a member of the New York State Bar Association (Trusts and Estate Section), the Monroe County Bar Association (Trusts and Estate Section; former member of the Executive Council), and the Estate Planning Council of Rochester.

John Garrett is a member of the Advisory Board of Directors of the Rochester-Monroe County Chapter of the American Red Cross (former vice president, Administration); former chairman, Heritage Division of Endowment Campaign for George Eastman House; member of the Board of Trustees and secretary of the Genesee Country Museum; former chairman of the board of Rochester Region Blood Services of the American Red Cross; former member and chairman of the Board of Directors of Crestwood Children’s Center (formerly Convalescent Hospital for Children); former member of the Board of Trustees of the Rochester Museum and Science Center; and former member of the Board of Trustees of Allendale Columbia School and president of the Allendale Alumni Association. He has participated in fundraising activities for a variety of nonprofit organizations, including the United Way of Greater Rochester, the George Eastman House, and the Al Sigl Center.

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