Don D. Ford III

Top rated Estate & Trust Litigation attorney in Houston, Texas

Ford + Bergner LLP
Don D. Ford III
Ford + Bergner LLP

Practice Areas: Estate & Trust Litigation, Estate Planning & Probate; view more

Licensed in Texas since: 1997

Education: Baylor University School of Law

Selected to Rising Stars: 2011

Ford + Bergner LLP

700 Louisiana Street
48th Floor
Houston, TX 77002 Visit website


Attorney Don D. Ford III is the managing partner of the law firm of Ford+Bergner LLP, which has law offices in Houston, Dallas and Austin, Texas. Serving clients across Texas, Mr. Ford leads a robust litigation practice that handles complex, contested estate, trust, and guardianship matters throughout Texas.  He and his firm provide invaluable counsel and support to individuals and families who have legal needs involving any of the following:

· Guardianship litigation

· Probate litigation

· Probate and guardianship administration or mediation

· Estate and gift tax issues

Among his impressive list of legal credentials, Mr. Ford holds his board certification in estate planning and probate from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and he earned his certification as a mediator for probate and guardianship cases after attending the intensive Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at the Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California.

Mr. Ford is one of the 9 members of the Judicial Certification Commission for which he was appointed to serve by the Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court.  Mr. Ford was appointed to the Commission on the basis of his expertise in guardianship matters, and he serves the Commission in part by helping to develop policy related to guardianships.  Prior to his service on the Commission, the Chief Justice appointed Mr. Ford to serve on the Guardianship Certification Board, where he chaired the Rules Committee and served as the Vice Chair of the Board.   

Mr. Ford is a frequent author and lecturer on the topics of estate planning, probate, guardianship, and trust matters, and he serves as member of the National Business Institute's Faculty and Planning Committee.  Mr. Ford has served the legal community in various position.  Of note, Mr. Ford has served as the president of the Houston Lawyer Referral Service, and as a member of the editorial board of The Houston Lawyer magazine.  He has also been a member of the Disability and Elder Law Attorneys’ Association, the Attorneys in Tax and Probate, the Texas Guardianship Association and the Real Estate, Probate, and Trust Law section of the Texas Bar.  

A 1994 graduate of Baylor University Hankamer School of Business, Mr. Ford returned to his alma mater and obtained his Juris Doctor from Baylor University School of Law in 1997. While in law school, he also worked on his Masters in Taxation.   

Practice areas

Estate & Trust Litigation, Estate Planning & Probate

Focus areas

Estate Planning, Guardianships & Conservatorships, Probate & Estate Administration, Trusts, Will Contests, Wills

  • 70% Estate & Trust Litigation
  • 30% Estate Planning & Probate

First Admitted: 1997, Texas

Professional Webpage:

Scholarly Lectures/Writings:
  • Probate Practice: The Essential Basics, Basic Tax Matters; Common Probate Problems and How to Solve Them, 2006 
  • Alternatives to Guardianships, Houston Bar Association’s Probate Court Ad Litem Certification Course, 2002
  • Oddities and Challenges in Texas Probate Law, Who’s in Charge? Issues Affecting Personal Representatives; Miscellaneous Odd and Challenging Issues in Probate, 2004 
  • Top 10 Estate Planning Techniques, Testamentary Trusts (Bypass and QTIP); Business Entities (An Overview of the Basics); Revocable Living Trusts vs. Traditional Wills, 2009
  • The Probate Process from Start to Finish, The Laws of Intestacy and How They May Apply; Litigating the Case in Probate Course; Putting the Case to Rest: Closing the Estate, 2008
  • Probate: Beyond the Basics, Tips for Avoiding Liability Issues You May Face in Closing; Preparing for Challenging Litigation Issues in Probate Proceedings, 2008
  • South Texas College of Law Real Estate Law Conference, Probate Issues in Real Estate, 2014 
  • Hidalgo County Bar Association Guardianship Course, Fundamentals of Guardianship Litigation with an Emphasis on Discovery, 2011
  • Fundamentals of Trust Administration, Overcoming Ethical Challenges; Essential Steps in Trust Termination, 2012 
  • The Probate Process from Start to Finish, Administering the Estate Effectively; Uncovering the Laws of Intestacy and How They May Apply; Putting the Case to Rest: Closing the Estate, 2013
  • Estate Planning from A to Z, 2013
  • The Probate Process from Start to Finish for Paralegals, 2013
  • The Guardianship Certification Board: A Legislative Attempt to Protect The Elderly, The Houston Lawyer Magazine, May/June 2006   
  • The Probate Process from Start to Finish, 2016
  • Denton County Probate Bar, Intestacy in Blended Families, 2016
  • Institute for Paralegal Education, The Probate Process from Start to Finish for Paralegals, 2016
  • Texas Center for the Judiciary: Civil Justice Conference, Improving Court Processes & Practices in Guardianship Cases, 2017
  • Frequent lecturer and writer with articles having appeared in The Houston Chronicle, The Houston Lawyer magazine, Forbes and various online and continuing education publications.  Frequent speaker at continuing legal education courses in the areas of Probate, Trusts, and Guardianships.
  • A Review of How to Build and Manage an Estates Practice, The Houston Lawyer Magazine, July/August 2008 
  • A Review of Law Firm Fees & Compensation: Value & Growth Dynamics, The Houston Lawyer Magazine, January/February 2009  
  • Muniment of Title: The Misunderstood Method of Probate, March 1, 2006
  • Estate Tax Repeal: Miracle or Myth? The Houston Chronicle, August 31, 2001
  • Fundamental Issues to Understand Before Accepting a Guardianship Litigation Engagement, The Advocate Litigation Magazine, State Bar of Texas Litigation Section, Fall 2009 
  • Your Complete Guide to Leaving an Inheritance for Your Children and Others, Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc., 2008
  • Estate Planning Makes Tax Sense, Turf Magazine, March 2013  
  • The Houston Lawyer Magazine, Editorial Board Member, 2000 - Present, Guest Editor: Solo and Small Firms Issue; March/April 2010, Guest Editor: The Debate Over Judicial Selection Issue; March/April 2003, Guest Editor: Professionalism Issue; January/February 2002   
  • Guest Faculty, September 2007 
  • Guest speaker at the annual meeting of the Texas College of Probate Judges, September 2006.
Educational Background:
  • Baylor University School of Business, Bachelor of Business Administration, Accounting, 1994
  • Baylor University, Post-Graduate Courses, Masters in Taxation
Special Licenses/Certifications:
  • Certified Mediator, Straus Institute of Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University School of Law. Mediation Certification Program completed August 2009 
  • Guardianship Certification Board, Appointed by Chief Justice of Texas Supreme Court Board Member, 2006 - Present, Rules Committee (Chairman, 2006 - Present), Legislative Committee (Member, 2007 Texas Legislative Session)
  • Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate, Texas Board of Legal Specialization, 2010 - Present , 2010
Bar/Professional Activity:
  • Commissioner, Judicial Branch Certification Commission (2014 - Present).  The Commission is a 9-member body that adjudicates, among other things, complaints regarding private, professional guardians. , 2020
  • Texas Guardianship Association, Member, 2007 - Present 
  • National Business Institute, Member, Faculty and Planning Committee, 2003 - Present 
  • Houston Bar Foundation, Member, 2006 - Present 
  • The Houston Lawyer Editorial Board member (Guest Editor Jan/Feb 2002, March/April 2003, and March/April 2010). Board member 2000-present., 2000
  • Texas Bar Foundation, Fellow, 2011 - Present, Member, Membership Nominating Committee, 2011 
  • Continuing Legal Education Committee member for the Houston Bar Association
  • Houston Lawyer Referral Service, Board of Trustees, Member, 2001-2012, President 2010 - 2011.  Board member 2001 - Present, Immediate Past President, 2011-2012, President-Elect, 2009-2010, Vice President, 2002-2003, 2008-2009, Chair, Suspension and Termination Committee, 2002-2003, 2006-2007, Chair, Publicity Committee, 2005-2006, Chair, Experienced Panel Standards Committee, 2004-2005 
  • Disability & Elder Law Attorneys' Association, Member, 1999 - Present 
  • Commissioner, Judicial Branch Certification Commission -- Appointed by the Supreme Court of Texas to serve as a Commissioner in overseeing issues related to private professional guardians. Rules Task Force, 2013 – Present, 2014
  • Texas Guardianship Certification Board (Rules Committee Chair, Disciplinary Review Committee member, Legislative Committee Member). Board member, 2006 - Present, 2006
  • Probate, Trusts and Estates section member of the Houston Bar Association, 2020
  • Attorneys in Tax and Probate Section Member for the Houston Bar Association, 2002 - Present
Industry Groups:
  • Commissioner on the Judicial Branch Certification Commission
  • Editorial Board Member For The Houston Lawyer Magazine
  • Houston Lawyer Referral Service Board Of Trustees (President 2010-2011)
  • Judicial Branch Certification Commission
  • Texas Guardianship Certification Board Member

Office location for Don D. Ford III

700 Louisiana Street
48th Floor
Houston, TX 77002

Phone: 713-352-0937


1 Year Rising Stars
  • Rising Stars: 2011

Attorney resources for Don D. Ford III

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