Charles A. Janssen - Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC

Charles A. Janssen

Listed in Best Lawyers since 1995

Charley graduated from the Michigan State University Honors College, Phi Beta Kappa in 1976. After receiving his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1979, he immediately joined Foster Swift.  Charley’s legal practice covers the entire spectrum of estate planning; wills, trusts, wealth management, family business planning, charitable gift planning and estate and trust administration. 

Known for his ability to simplify the most complex of estate planning strategies into plain English, he is always willing to speak on estate planning, charitable gifting and business planning issues to interested groups and businesses.  Additionally, he has authored numerous articles on estate planning and charitable giving topics, and is a contributing editor to a number of Institute for Continuing Legal Education (ICLE) books and publications including Revocable Living Trusts in Michigan

Charley's legal talents have long been recognized by his peers. Top estate planning attorneys from around the country nominated and elected him to the prestigious American College of Trust and Estate Attorneys in 1995. Fellow attorneys have also ranked him as a top Estate Planning and Elder Law attorney in Best Lawyers® in America since 1993 and he has been recognized as a Michigan Super Lawyer in those same areas of practice since the survey's inception in 2005.

In addition to his practice, Charley has held numerous leadership roles in the firm, including chairing the Business and Tax Department, heading up the attorney recruitment committee, sitting on the firm’s Executive Committee and serving as President of the Law Firm (2003-2005). He has also chaired the Ingham County Bar Probate and Estate Planning Section and the Greater Lansing Estate Planning Council.

Charley enjoys giving his time and expertise to many mid-Michigan civic and charitable boards and activities. Currently, he sits on the Board of Trustees for Michigan State University College of Law, is a commissioner for Lansing Entertainment and Public Facilities Authority and is the treasurer for the Lansing Christian School Foundation. In the past, he has served as chairperson or board member of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee, Lansing Public Schools Foundation, Lansing Riverfront Development Board, and Lansing Entertainment and Public Facilities Authority. Charley also co-chaired the City of Lansing’s Project Play, which helped raise $2 million for new playground equipment for city parks and school playgrounds. Charley remains active in promoting charitable giving through the Capital Region Community Foundation and many other wonderful charities and agencies.

In appreciation of Charley's efforts, he has received the Ingham County Bar Association’s Camille Abood Distinguished Volunteer Award in 2006 and the Chief Okemos Council Boy Scout of America Distinguished Service Award in 2009.

Additional Information

Court Admissions

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

Experience Representative Matters
  • Develop estate plans that accomplish clients' goals.
  • Mediate disputes in large estates involving family business.
  • Represent numerous multi-million dollar lottery winners.
  • Establish private foundations.
  • Provide legal counsel to public charities.
  • Design sophisticated generational family gifting plans that minimize tax liability.
  • Develop and Implement Legal and Tax Aspects of Business Succession plans for family owned Manufacturing, Real Estate, and Agricultural Businesses
Michigan State UniversityBA 1976University of Michigan Law School,J.D. 1979
American Bar AssociationMichigan State Bar Foundation

Office Location

313 South Washington Square
Lansing, MI 48933-2114
United States


Lawyer of the Year Awards

2016 Lawyer of the Year in Trusts and Estates of the Lansing Metro Area2015 Lawyer of the Year in Elder Law of the Lansing Metro Area2011 Lawyer of the Year in Elder Law of the Lansing Metro Area
Charles A. Janssen has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2016!Charles A. Janssen has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2015!Charles A. Janssen has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2011!

Practice Areas

Elder Law
Trusts and Estates