Mr. Ratchford rejoined the firm in September, 2015, as an Associate in the Wills, Trusts & Estates Department.
Attorney Christopher P. Ratchford counsels both individual and corporate clients on a wide range of tax (corporate, estate, inheritance, and income), trust, and estate planning/administration issues. As a member of the Pennsylvania Bar since 1996, Attorney Ratchford brings to his practice a diverse professional background and brings to every matter a unique, well-rounded perspective.
Attorney Ratchford is a 1993 graduate of the University of Scranton (B.S. Finance), a 1996 graduate of Villanova University School of Law (J.D.), and a 2004 graduate of Villanova University School of Law (LL.M. Taxation). Spending his early years in practice as both a law clerk to a Court of Common Pleas Judge and as an associate in a general practice firm, Attorney Ratchford has represented clients (both individual and corporate) in varied civil matters ranging from transactional/contract negotiations and drafting to employment discrimination litigation. In this time, Attorney Ratchford also participated in the representation of various municipal clients (zoning boards, townships, etc.) represented by his employer.
Additionally, Attorney Ratchford represented the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as an Assistant District Attorney for Lackawanna County. In that position, Attorney Ratchford prosecuted DUI, juvenile and drug related criminal offenses. Handling matters from inception (whether by Information or by presentment to a Grand Jury) through conviction (whether by plea or jury verdict), hundreds of criminal matters involving a myriad of legal issues were managed. In his position as ADA, Attorney Ratchford represented the District Attorney’s Office in civil matters relating to the forfeiture of assets used in furtherance of criminal activities.
Upon attaining his LL.M. in taxation, the focus of Attorney Ratchford’s practice shifted, placing a primary emphasis upon estate planning, estate administration, and non-profit corporate tax issues including obtaining and maintaining federal income tax exemption. Clients range from individuals with small estates seeking powers of attorney, living wills and simple estate plans to clients with significant, complex estates requiring sophisticated estate tax analysis and planning. In this pursuit, a common element of Attorney Ratchford’s practice involves both the drafting and administration of trusts. Whether designed to address personal matters individual to the client (such as Special Needs Trusts for individuals with disabilities or spendthrift trusts for individuals with creditor concerns, etc.) or to address tax minimization strategies (Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts, etc.), Attorney Ratchford can offer insights into the options available to a client seeking to protect assets or minimize taxes via the creation of a trust. In addition to drafting trusts, Attorney Ratchford has significant experience representing trustees in the administration of trust estates; addressing issues ranging from beneficiary notifications to accountings of administration. A measurable portion of Attorney Ratchford’s recent practice has involved guardianships of both the person and estate of individuals who, because of physical or mental handicap, are incapable of managing their own affairs; helping concerned family members obtain the legal authority to act for such individuals both financially and with regard to health care decisions.
Attorney Ratchford took a four year sabbatical from the daily practice of law. In that time, he obtained a Masters in the Art of Teaching (M.A.T., Marywood University) and a Pennsylvania Department of Education Secondary Education Certificate in mathematics. Mr. Ratchford spent three enriching years teaching middle school mathematics at a small, parochial school in Scranton, Pennsylvania.