Estate Planning

Because we have experience in all these areas, we can handle almost anything that comes our way. We can draw up an initial estate plan that you might need as a young parent. With a commitment to service in time of need, we visit hospitals and those in hospice with less than 24-hours’ notice to execute emergencies wills and AMDs. We make home visits to disabled, ill, or elderly folks. 

We assist middle aged couples who are trying to sort out how to care for parents who may not be able to care for themselves. We represent children who are seeking guardianship and conservatorships for their parents, as well as parents who need the same for their disabled children. We advise on Medicaid spenddowns and Medicare regulations. We advise folks on how to go through the probate process, or we handle the entire inventory process for those who need additional assistance or face more complex estates. 

We design complex revocable trusts for both tax planning and probate avoidance. As country dwellers, we draw up gun trusts. As former big city lawyers, we can devise revocable trusts into which our clients need to place multiple properties and assets. To that list of what we can do is what we enjoy doing: getting to know families and helping them. 

Then we handle the other side of the transaction: which is when the estate plan itself goes wrong. When a parent or loved one passes, with or without a will, sometimes the children or the heirs cannot agree on how to divide assets. Or beneficiaries find reason to contest either a will or the actions of an executor or trustee.

Wills and Trusts;


Real Estate;

End of life planning;

Medicaid and Medicare;

Guardianships and Conservatorships;

Business succession; and when all goes wrong:

Trust and Estate litigation.

Reach Out to Jarvis Law Today

Our Expertise in Estate Planning

We have litigated cases in the Shenandoah Valley and throughout the Commonwealth to contest wills, defend trustees from charges of misuse or civil conversion, and we also can help distraught or frustrated families avoid expensive litigation by means of negotiation. As far as litigation, we have filed and/or defended the following trusts and estates cases:

  • Will contests;
  • Challenges to Trusts;
  • Negligence or misconduct by Executors or Trustees;
  • Breach of Fiduciary duty;
  • Actual fraud;
  • Constructive fraud;
  • Civil conversion (non-criminal cases that involve wrongful takings of property);
  • Guardianships and conservatorships;
  • Failure to file proper accountings and/or inventories;
  • Interpretation of vague language;
  • Partition lawsuits;
  • Theft.

Litigating cases in Circuit Courts helps us when we advise clients in the conference room. It helps us draw up estate plans carefully. We focus on understanding every word we put in the wills and trusts we draft, and we look for ambiguity that could lead to trouble. Then we draft concise and comprehensive estate plans with an eye toward fairly capturing the intentions of our clients, while ensuring that we don’t leave loopholes or gaps that could lead to conflict. 

Getting an estate plan right takes time. It also takes the wisdom that comes from being a daughter, a sister, and a mom, in addition to a counselor at law. We care about getting it right, and we care about the people who come through our door or who need us to arrive at their door to help them get their final wishes captured. Of all our practice areas, estate planning gives us the opportunity to serve, which is what our firm really values.

You Deserve The Best Estate Planning Lawyers

over 30 years of law experience

Estate Planning at Jarvis Law

We will take the time to really, really get to know you. It’s difficult for some people to even talk about their wills and trusts, not to mention their advanced medical directive. I’ve seen folks tear up at the mere thought of leaving their loved ones. And figuring out who to put in charge of your trust or your will can be difficult. To get to solutions, first we listen. Then we take the law, as we have learned to apply it over the decades, and try to come up with the best plan for everyone. 

In addition, we are also willing to give some really hard advice. Families who are already bickering, for example, have some obvious challenges, and for them, we craft creative and compassionate solutions. As I once learned, “No” is a full sentence. We try to think it through and we try to help avoid trouble down the road. 

Finally, we offer a rare service: we make home visits, and we also mobilize to make emergency visits to hospitals and hospice centers. It is an honor to visit our clients in times of dire need, and we view our profession as a somber and serious one. It is our duty to provide conscientious and diligent legal aid to all our clients, and we do it willingly.

Jarvis Law offers legal services in Maryland as well as Virginia. Maryland is Elaine’s home state, and her parents still reside in Ellicott City. Have law licenses—will travel.


Amanda Chaillan

Senior Adviser, Business

Amanda Chaillan earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in English from Chapman University in 2008. Her collegiate study focused on intercultural and global relations, including a research semester at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic and a semester of study at Georgetown University, Washington, DC. She also completed an Executive Certificate in Strategic Management from the Harvard Extension School in 2017.

Amanda’s career has always been at the intersection of nonprofits, business and government. Focused on delivering positive impact, she has helped build organizations, develop business strategies and craft messaging that advances the work of visionaries and leaders that are shaping the world. She played a critical role in marketing and practice integration for the energy sector group of a global law firm, led engagement with legal counsel and the Board of Directors to establish and facilitate strategic planning for the launch of a water-focused nonprofit, and has led program teams addressing a range of corporate social responsibilities (CSR) issues.  

Amanda brings her business acumen and operational expertise to every engagement, drawing on her particular strengths in stakeholder engagement, program development and storytelling. She is committed to continuing to build a career of service and working to make a positive impact on the world.

Tarra Smeltzer

Office Manager

Tarra Smeltzer has constructed a career that builds on her passion for personal wellness and strong business ethics. She brings a big heart and incredible attention to detail to every role she takes on. Whether it’s supporting customers or working with colleagues, she is a doer and fixer, helping manage cases, fostering a collaborative culture and trouble-shooting operational and legal issues.

With more than 30 years of customer service experience, Tarra manages the trial and team schedules and coordinates office operations to deliver the best outcomes for Jarvis clients. She also brings research skills and issue experience in the areas of real estate, consumer and family law.

Tarra is a vital member of the Jarvis team, and a caring champion of clients. In her free time she enjoys hiking in the Shenandoah Valley, reading and spending time with her loving family.

Madeline Farris


A student at the College of William & Mary, Madeline Farris is a Classics Major who plans to follow in the footsteps of Mrs. Jarvis as a lawyer and an author. Ever since the age of 12, Madeline has been writing: with six complete novels, Madeline is determined to publish her work, but she loves her work at Jarvis Law, where she is able to crack fascinating cases and help good people. Madeline figures in a leadership position in her campus’s Unitarian Universalist ministry, and also works at the Williamsburg Unitarian Universalist Church as the Childcare Coordinator.

Madeline has experience in the nonprofit and legal aid sectors: she worked with Mrs. Jarvis as Mrs. Jarvis’s intern while Mrs. Jarvis was still a staff attorney at Blue Ridge Legal Services, and also worked with Valley Assistance Network from 2019-2020 as an intern, where she was able to help connect struggling people with necessary resources.

Madeline is also the stepdaughter of a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), so she is studying to obtain her light sport pilots license, for as Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”

Madeline’s favorite areas of law are family, consumer protection, and business law. She enjoys finding odd solutions to difficult problems, and assisting wonderful souls in a world that is sometimes unforgiving and cruel. Madeline’s hobbies include playing the clarinet, taking long walks in nature, and talking to her vivacious pet goldfish, Bertie.

Joshua Smeltzer


Joshua Smeltzer obtained a Bachelor of Science in Philosophy from James Madison University in 2022, following his service with the U.S. Army. He is a compassionate and committed public servant building a career that draws on his strong communication, research and management skills.

Josh seeks out opportunities that require critical thinking and creative solutions to address the complex challenges faced by clients. As a lead researcher, he dives deep into an issue to inform the legal strategy of the Jarvis team. He has led research on legal issues including consumer law, real estate, family law and estate planning.

Josh is a dedicated family man and proud member of the Shenandoah Valley community. In his free time, Josh enjoys physical activities and indulging in a new book.

Elaine Jarvis

Elaine Jarvis obtained her law degree from the Marshall Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary in 1997. She practiced law in D.C. and Northern Virginia for several years, obtaining experience in litigation, antitrust, mergers & acquisitions, bankruptcy and contract law. She put the practice of law on hold for a bit to raise three children and run multiple businesses, with a focus on publishing and helping non-profits. Over the course of a decade, Elaine wrote ten novels and built a social media following of more than 50,000 people with her page and blog, Running from Hell with El. Her first two novels, Ripple: a Tale of Hope and Redemption and I Run: a Novel won awards and hit Amazon bestseller’s list at #1 and #2.

In 2015, Elaine moved from Fairfax County to the mountains of Front Royal and found her love for the practice of law rekindled. She joined Blue Ridge Legal Services, Inc. (BRLS) in Winchester, where she helped low-income clients in Frederick County, Clarke County, Front Royal, Shenandoah and Page County–and all parts in between. These clients faced legal issues in consumer law, bankruptcy, landlord/tenant, and estate planning. At BRLS, Elaine counted success as roofs kept over heads and clients saved from overwhelming threats to their survival. Leaving BRLS and her office mates was hard, but being able to help folks in Northern Virginia, Manassas, Winchester, the Valley and of course Front Royal while also focusing on complex fact patterns, small businesses, and aggrieved consumers makes for a journey into an exciting future. Elaine’s outside interests include writing, flying airplanes, hiking, adventuring, gardening and piloting things that go fast and land gently. She enjoys running and traveling from mountain to ocean and just about anywhere in between—as long as she can escape the city. She welcomes people from all faith traditions, ethnic backgrounds, genders, and personal belief systems to her practice.