David J. Backer


David J. Backer


Phone: 207.253.0529 Fax: 207.772.3627 Email: dbacker@dwmlaw.com

84 Marginal Way, Suite 600 Portland, ME 04101-2480

Assistant: Danielle Satterfield Email: dsatterfield@dwmlaw.com


David Backer, Leader of the firm’s Trust and Estate Planning Practice Group, concentrates his practice on counseling individuals, families, and closely-held businesses on an array of sophisticated estate planning, succession management, tax planning, and wealth preservation matters. David is recognized as a leading authority in Maine probate and trust law, and has garnered a national-level reputation for his understanding of complex tax and estate planning concepts and techniques.

David thoughtfully collaborates with clients at every stage of life: unmarried individuals, young couples expecting their first child, domestic partners, retirees, business owners, and widows and widowers. In order to help clients realize their goals, David drafts highly customized estate plans that include wills, trusts, financial powers of attorney, pre-and post-marital agreements, real estate gifting, advance health care directives, and beneficiary designations on retirement plans and life insurance policies. Throughout the process, David identifies opportunities to save tax dollars and administrative costs and fees.

In addition, David advises personal representatives and trustees on issues of estate and trust administration.

Elected by his peers, David is a Fellow of the prestigious American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. He has been distinguished as a Band 1 private wealth lawyer by the Chambers High Net Worth Guide every year since 2017.  Recent client commentary in the Chambers High Net Worth Guide states, “I would absolutely recommend David Backer, he is at the top of my list for referrals in a conflict situation,” comments an interviewee, adding: “He is always someone I would call for a second opinion on a really technical issue. He has a great eye for detail, he is very easy to work with and has a great manner with clients.” Another interviewee highlights Backer’s attention to detail, noting: “He is a master of detail. He loves the intellect involved in seeing how the law fits together and the technical aspects of putting an estate plan together.” One interviewee remarks: “If you ever have a question about the Maine Uniform Probate Code, he is the person to go to.”   He has also been included in Best Lawyers in America, Trusts and Estates, every year since 2007.

David serves as Chair of Maine’s Probate and Trust Law Advisory Commission, providing recommendations to the Maine Legislature for improvements in the state’s probate and trust laws. He has served as Chair of the Commission since its creation in 2010. For the past 20 years, he has authored the Estate Planning Year in Review, and he is a frequent speaker and writer on a wide range of trust, estate, and tax planning topics.

In his free time, David can be found outdoors: open water ocean swimming in the summer and Nordic skate skiing in the winter. He also enjoys hiking, cycling, swimming, and sailing. David also serves as President of the Board of Directors of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K, Maine’s premier road racing event.


Indiana University School of Law, Bloomington, J.D., 1977

University of Texas at Austin, B.A., with high honors Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, 1974


Estate Planning Lawyer of the Year, Portland, ME (Awarded by Best Lawyers) 2015

Chambers and Partners High Net Worth, Band 1 Private Wealth Law, Maine, 2017-2023

New England Super Lawyers, Estate Planning & Probate 2008-2014, 2020-2024

Best Lawyers USA, Trusts and Estates 2008-2024

Martindale Hubbell, AV Preeminent


American College of Trust and Estate Counsel
Fellow, Elected 2006

Maine’s Probate and Trust Law Advisory Committee
Member and Chair

WealthCounsel, a national collaborative of trust and estate planning attorneys
Founding Member

Maine State Bar Association Committees that reviewed and promoted the adoption of Maine’s versions of the Uniform Trust Code and the Uniform Principal and Income Act

Former probate court commissioner

Community/Public Service

Maine’s Probate and Trust Law Advisory Commission
Member (2010 – current, appointed by the Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in 2010 and reappointed in 2013, 2016, and 2019); Chair (2010 – current)

TD Beach to Beacon 10K, Inc.
Member, Board of Directors and legal counsel (2001-current); President, Board of Directors (2018-Current)

The Bob Crewe Foundation
Secretary (2020)

Board of Directors, USA Canoe/Kayak, the United States Olympic Committee’s national governing body for the sports of whitewater slalom and flat water sprint canoe and kayak
Appointed Member (2009 – 2011); Board Chair (2009 – 2011)

Cape Elizabeth Town Council
Member (2003 – 2009 – elected 2003 and re-elected 2006); Finance Chairman (2005); Chairman (2006)

Town of Cape Elizabeth, Thomas Memorial Library Foundation
Incorporator (2004); member, Board of Directors (2004-2008)

Institute for Civic Leadership’s Collaborative Leadership Intensive
Member, Mu class (2004 – 2005)

Cape Elizabeth Town Zoning Board of Appeals
Member (1999-2003); Chair (2000-2003)

Board of Directors, USA Triathlon, the United States Olympic Committee’s national governing body for the sport of triathlon
Elected member (1989-1993); President (1990-1992); and Co-Chair of legal committee (1998-2004)

United States Olympic Committee, Athlete Support Committee
Appointed member (1996-2000)

Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana, College of Business, graduate school Masters of Business Administration program
Adjunct Professor of business law (1995-1997)

Past Presentations

From May 6, 2022

“The Advance Health Directive Dissected” – Maine State Bar Association Elder Law and Estate Planning Institute

From April 10, 2019

“Maine’s New Probate Code” – Maine State Bar Association all day seminar

From January 25, 2019

Maine Probate Judges Assembly – Maine’s new Probate Code, Title 18-C

From November 15, 2018

Maine State Bar Association Legal Year in Review – Updates to Maine’s Probate Code, Title 18-C

From September 23, 2016

Maine Probate Judges Assembly

From May 4, 2016

Say Goodbye To Title 18-A - Updating the Maine Probate Code After 35 Years of Faithful Service

From September 3, 2013

Ascertainable Standards: What Are They and Why Do They Matter?

From April 28, 2012

Multi-Generational Ownership & Planning for Family Owned Properties in Maine

From May 4, 2011

Estate Planning, Maine Bankers Association, Trust and Wealth Management Conference

From October 1, 2008

Estate Planning Essentials for Financial Planners

From January 1, 2008

The Complete Trust Course, PESI, Seminar

From September 1, 2007

Drafting Options Under the Maine Uniform Trust Code

From September 1, 2007

Beneficiary Controlled Trusts and Trust Protectors

From January 2, 2007

The Complete Trust Course, PESI, Seminar

From December 1, 2006

Marital Deduction Planning in a Decoupled State

From January 3, 2006

The Complete Trust Course, PESI, Seminar

From May 3, 2005

Implementing the Maine Uniform Trust Code, Maine Bankers Association, Annual Convention

From March 1, 2005

Uniform Trust Code Overview for the Real Estate Practitioner

From February 4, 2005

Critical Concepts and Definitions Under the Maine Uniform Trust Code

From January 4, 2005

Uniform Trust Code Critical Concepts

From January 4, 2005

The Complete Trust Course, PESI, Seminar

From September 2, 2004

Uniform Trust Code Critical Concepts

From March 3, 2004

Use of the Power to Adjust and the Power to Convert to a Unitrust under Maine's New Uniform Principal and Income Act

From February 3, 2004

Maine's Uniform Trust Code, Critical Concepts and Definitions

From May 1, 2003

Changing Investment Strategies and Why Unitrust Conversion Makes Sense in a Poor Investment Market

From October 1, 2002

Maine's New Uniform Principal and Income Act, The Power to Convert to a Unitrust