Michael Bakhama

Michael Bakhama joined Nusinov Smith in 2023, after having practiced for over nine years at the international law firm of DLA Piper LLP. Mr. Bakhama advises high-net-worth clients and corporate fiduciaries on a broad range of matters, including multi-generational wealth preservation. He has briefed and argued cases in state and federal courts around the country in trusts and estates controversies, commercial and real estate disputes, and appellate litigation. Whether his clients need planning or advocacy, Mr. Bakhama solves problems with intelligence and integrity. He has taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland School of Law since 2015.

Notable Cases

Trusts and Estates Controversies

  • Successfully defended a personal representative against numerous claims and appeals filed by the decedent’s widow, including:
  • A challenge to the personal representative’s authority to pay attorneys’ fees from the estate without prior court approval (2020)
  • A declaratory judgment action seeking to construe the decedent’s Will in the widow’s favor (2018)
  • A caveat action seeking to invalidate the decedent’s Will (2017)
  • A petition seeking to remove the personal representative (2017)
  • Successfully represented a retired founder and CEO of a formerly publicly traded company against his son, obtaining a favorable settlement involving a release of all claims (2019)
  • Successfully represented trustees in a dispute over the construction of a trust: Maryland’s highest Court agreed that the decedent intended to create a charitable foundation (2018)
  • Successfully prosecuted a caveat action on behalf of a charity, obtaining a favorable settlement in a $21MM estate (2018)
  • Successfully prosecuted claims on behalf of a Navy Captain’s son against the Captain’s girlfriend, who was alleged to have forged his Will, obtaining a favorable settlement (2016)
  • Business and Real Estate Litigation

  • Successfully defended a commercial landlord, briefing, arguing, and winning an appeal that reversed the trial court’s entire verdict, including a $1M punitive damages award (2020)
  • Successfully represented a veterinarian in a final judicial appeal of a disciplinary sanction, briefing, arguing, and winning a reversal of the agency’s decision, resulting in invalidating a regulation as unconstitutional, and ending almost 20 years of litigation (2019)
  • Successfully defended Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) broker-dealer managers against third-party claims in an arbitration brought by a sovereign Indian Tribe in connection with over $220MM in investments, resulting in dismissal of all claims (2019)
  • Successfully defended a company in $40MM lawsuit in federal court, briefing and winning dismissal of business tort claims, and summary judgment on remaining contract claim (2019)
  • Successfully defended a company in a landmark appeal in New York, briefing, arguing, and winning a case threatening to criminalize a then-$3B (now ~$20B) alternative financing industry (2018)
  • Successfully defended a company in a $5MM lawsuit in federal courts in Ohio and New York, briefing and winning dismissal of fraud, RICO, and usury claims (2018)
  • Successfully represented seller of residential real estate, briefing, arguing, and winning an appeal reversing the trial court’s decision, and obtaining a favorable settlement on remand (2017)
  • Representative Appellate Decisions

  • Donegal Associates, LLC v. Christie-Scott, LLC, 241 A.3d 1011, 248 Md. App. 488 (2020)
  • Castruccio v. Estate of Castruccio, 196 A.3d 912, 239 Md. App. 345 (2018)
  • Champion Auto Sales, LLC v. Pearl Beta Funding, LLC, 69 N.Y.S.3d 798, 2018 Slip. Op. 01645, 2018 WL 1320301 (1st Dep’t 2018)
  • Matter of Albert G. Aaron Living Trust, 181 A.3d 703, 457 Md. 699 (2018)
  • Castruccio v. Estate of Castruccio, 169 A.3d 431, 456 Md. 1 (2017)
  • Lipitz v. Hurwitz, No. 113, Sept. Term, 2016, 2017 WL 3599677 (Md. App. Aug. 22, 2017) (unreported)
  • State v. Waine, 122 A.3d 294, 444 Md. 692 (2015)
  • Estate Planning Matters

  • Mr. Bakhama has experience planning and implementing multi-generational wealth management strategies for clients with assets ranging from $2MM to $2B+ using a variety of sophisticated trust instruments and transactions to minimize, estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer (GST) taxes, and protect family assets. Such vehicles include bypass (or credit shelter) trusts, Family Limited Partnerships (FLPs), Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs), Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts (IDGTs), Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILITs), Qualified Terminable Interest Property (QTIP) Trusts, Spousal Lifetime Access Trusts (SLATs), Wills, and dynasty trusts designed to hold property for many generations. Mr. Bakhama also negotiates and drafts judicial and non-judicial settlement agreements, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, sales, and business and fiduciary succession plans.
  • Sometimes, a sound estate plan will demand tax-driven documents with forbidding jargon. Other times, it will require little more than a simple Will, a power of attorney, and an advance medical directive. Regardless of which techniques are appropriate, Mr. Bakhama collaborates with his clients to identify their goals with clarity and implement them with thoughtfulness and care.
  • The Supreme Court of the United States recently quoted a famous author, who wrote that “All good trust-and-estate lawyers know that ‘[d]eath is not the end; there remains litigation over the estate.’” Sveen v. Melin, 138 S. Ct. 1815, 1818-19 (2018). Mr. Bakhama’s experience with fiduciary litigation enables him to identify and preempt potential problems before they arise, at the planning stage. By taking proactive measures and promoting family harmony, sound planning provides clients with peace of mind by ensuring that their wishes will be honored regardless of changes in laws, facts, relationships, or feelings of surviving loved ones.
  • While many other attorney-client relationships last only until a specific transaction or litigation has concluded, estate planning representations can last for an entire lifetime or even longer, as attorneys often represent multiple generations of a family. Thus, when difficulties arise in life, clients look to their estate planning attorneys as trusted, longtime counselors for the family. In this role, Mr. Bakhama has applied his astute skills to successfully resolve cases ranging from professional disciplinary sanctions to business and real estate disputes and appeals. Separately, he has successfully litigated a broad range of trusts and estates-related cases and appeals—although none of those matters arose out of his estate planning representations.
  • The representative matters listed above attest to the depth and breadth of Mr. Bakhama’s experience.