​​Bankston Gronning O'Hara, P.C.

law firm ANCHORAGE Alaska




FAX 907-279-5358

601 West 5th Avenue, Suite 900
Anchorage, Alaska 99501

Steve O'Hara helps clients with estate planning, business planning, estate and trust administration,  estate and trust litigation, and tax planning and reporting.

Steve issues expert opinions in his areas of expertise.  

Committed to Bill Bankston’s vision since 1982, Steve clerked for BGO during law school and joined the firm full-time in 1984.

With the belief that if you want to know a subject well, then write about it, Steve has authored a column on estate planning in every issue of the Alaska Bar Association’s publication The Alaska Bar Rag since August 1989. 

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Steve moved to Alaska in 1982. He has written his father’s story and explains why in this piece entitled Keep The Story Alive.


If we are rich, we are rich in stories. Money, after all, is limited. But a story, now that is where we all can be rich in hope no matter our circumstances.

We all have stories. Today’s technology, on an ever-increasing basis, allows us to keep them alive. Using current technology for research as well as publication, I recently documented my father’s story. Technology allows for updates as research is completed as well as the addition of photographs and other media as they are discovered.

As lawyers we hear great stories from clients. One of my favorites is about a grandson whom here I call Joseph. Some years ago the client’s daughter, Joseph’s mother, died of cancer. Joseph was then in his teens or a young adult.

The client and his son-in-law, Joseph’s father, were in the kitchen planning the funeral when Joseph came in.

“I want to speak at my mother’s funeral,” Joseph announced.

The witnesses there humored him. “Sure, Joseph. That’ll be fine.”

Each day leading up to the funeral Joseph said the same, and everyone humored him. You know kids.

Soon the day of the funeral arrived. The service was at a big church and packed, I believe, and was going well when all of a sudden Joseph made his move. He was front and center, armed no doubt with a microphone.

Joseph, who has down syndrome, proceeded to hold everyone spellbound with his insight. He told his mother’s story like no one else ever could. Then he quietly returned to where he was seated.

Today Joseph’s grandfather, my client, finds himself a widower. His daughter and his wife have passed, and he has taken to writing his family’s story. He says all the work and the excitement generated by the story help him look forward to each day.

At this time I have not experienced anything like the pain of losing a child or spouse, but in 2002 I lost my father to cancer. When I no longer could see him in the flesh I considered whether it was possible that this person is indeed real or whether it is just a wonderful dream.

Lest it is a dream, I recorded The Jim O’Hara Story: Boxing, Dignity and Street Smarts, which may be read at www.60yearsofboxing.org.

Writing anyone’s story is an exercise in scratching the surface, but it certainly helps with the pain.

As estate planners we ought to remind children and siblings and certainly parents and widows and widowers to consider recording the story. The record need not be in writing. Hopefully someone taped Joseph’s story of his mother.

I can verify that regardless of the number of people who will be interested in the story, the exercise is fun and beneficial. My father certainly never thought of himself as somebody.

Dave Rosen, remembered in Alaska and beyond as an outstanding husband, father, Trust Officer and Certified Public Accountant, dedicated himself in his later years to recording the stories of U.S. veterans and others. He interviewed his subjects with a tape recorder and then shared the recordings.

Rosen had a gift. He was genuinely interested in your story. He found it fascinating to visit with you and draw out the story. He was always so kind in listening to me or reading about my father and sharing his thoughts.

Rosen has been an inspiration. His gift can be learned by intentional listening and then, as we are able, by taking action to keep the stories alive.

Steven T. O’Hara, July 17, 2013


Northwestern University School of Law, J.D., 1984​

  • Editor (Notes & Comments), Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business

University of St. Thomas, B.A., 1979

  • Rhodes Scholar Nominee


  • Accounting Reports in Trusts & Estates
  • Business Formation & Governance
  • Business Succession Planning
  • Business Valuation
  • Buy-Sell Agreements/Shareholder Agreements 
  • Buying & Selling Businesses/Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Charitable Planning
  • Contract Negotiation
  • Commercial Transactions
  • Complex Estate Structures 
  • Corporate Law
  • Estate Administration
  • Estate Planning
  • Estate Tax Return Preparation & Audits
  • Estate & Trust Litigation
  • Expert Opinions
  • Family Foundations
  • Fiduciary Law
  • Generation-Skipping Tax Return Preparation & Audits
  • Gift Tax Return Preparation & Audits
  • Life Insurance Due Diligence
  • LLC Law
  • Mediation
  • Non-Profit Organizations
  • Partnership Law
  • Probate Law
  • Risk Management
  • Secured Transactions
  • Securities Regulation
  • Tax Compliance
  • Tax Law
  • Trust Administration
  • Trust Planning
  • Trust Reformation/Modification


  • State of Alaska, 1984
  • United States Tax Court, 1985
  • United States District Court for the District of Alaska, 1985
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1986


  • Fellow, The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel
  • Past Chair, Alaska Bar Association Section on Estate Planning and Probate
  • Frequent speaker before estate planning groups. Faculty member, Springing the Delaware Tax Trap: Drafting Limited Powers of Appointment to Increase Income Tax Basis, June 28, 2016, a live webinar with interactive Q&A, Strafford Continuing Education Webinars, Atlanta, Georgia 


  • 2016 Lawyer of the Year, Trusts & Estates Law, Anchorage, Alaska, Best Lawyers in America
  • 2013 Lawyer of the Year, Tax Law, Anchorage, Alaska, Best Lawyers in America
  • Selected over 20 Consecutive Years to Best Lawyers in America, including for Tax Law; Trusts and Estates Law; Corporate Law; Non-Profit/Charities Law; and Litigation — Trusts & Estates
  • Super Lawyers, Estate Planning & Probate


Bankston Gronning O’Hara, P.C., 1982 to Present


  • Pro Bono Counsel to Numerous Nonprofit Organizations
  • Past Member, Alaska Pacific University Foundation Board of Directors
  • Past Member, Southcentral Alaska Chapter of the American Red Cross Board of Directors


  • The Jim O’Hara Story: Boxing, Dignity & Street Smartswww.60yearsofboxing.org
  • Column, Estate Planning Corner, The Alaska Bar Rag, 1989 to Present
  • Thinking Outside the Code, 116 (No. 8) Tax Notes 679 (August 20, 2007)
  • Working In A World With The GST Tax, 137 Trusts & Estates 47 (1998)
  • Using Ascertainable Standards for Distributions from Trusts, 10 The Audio Estate Planner (Summer 1994)
  • In Search of the Meaning of Income: Glenshaw Glass Revisited, 127 Trusts & Estates 50 (1988)
  • The Creation, Operation and Dissolution of a Limited Partnership in Alaska, 2 Alaska L. Rev. 271 (1985)
  • Worker Adjustment Assistance: The Failure & The Future, 5 Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business 394 (1983)

Following is a sampling of the types of articles Steve writes for The Alaska Bar Rag. If you would like a copy of any one or more of them, please call Karen Burgess at 907.276.1711 or email her at kburgess@bgolaw.pro.

  1. Taxes Applicable in Alaska
  2. Understanding the Gift Tax Exclusion
  3. There’s a Major Disadvantage to Gifting
  4. The Community Property Advantage
  5. Transfers for Educational or Medical Expenses
  6. Beware of Retroactive Legislation
  7. Determining the Federal Estate Tax
  8. Estate Planning is Not Wasting Opportunities
  9. Equalize Assets
  10. “Per Stirpes” Defined
  11. The Gift Tax is Tax-exclusive
  12. Defining a Gift for Tax Purposes
  13. One-Pot Trust vs. Multiple Trusts
  14. Personal Guarantee May be a Taxable Gift
  15. Securities Laws
  16. “Simple” or Basic Will
  17. Term vs. Cash Value Life Insurance
  18. The Federal Generation-Skipping Tax
  19. Disability Insurance
  20. Taxes: “Enjoy” Them While They’re Low
  21. Buy-Sell Agreements
  22. Forms and Publications
  23. Life Insurance Ownership
  24. The Qualified Disclaimer
  25. Estate Planning is More Than a Will
  26. Who May Make A Will?
  27. More on Stepping Up Tax Basis
  28. New Estate and Trust Tax Rates
  29. Calculating the Federal Gift Tax
  30. Trustee Removal and Appointment Powers
  31. Pitfalls in Using the Ascertainable Standard
  32. Shifting Trustee’s Distribution Power
  33. Tax Considerations in Trustee Selection
  34. The Ascertainable Standard
  35. Powers of Appointment
  36. Consider Skipping Generations
  37. Deathbed Planning With Retirement Accounts
  38. Selecting an Estate’s Tax Year
  39. Creating a Nonprofit Organization
  40. The QTIP Trust
  41. Life Insurance on Children
  42. Give Personal Effects by Specific Bequest
  43. GST Tax Exemptions and Exclusions
  44. Working In A World With The GST Tax
  45. Direct Skips vs. Taxable Distributions & Terminations
  46. $1,000,000 GST Exemption
  47. A Disadvantage of Retirement Plans
  48. Generation Assignment Under The GST Tax
  49. Will Congress Abolish the Estate Tax?
  50. The Alaska Asset Protection Trust
  51. The Grantor Trust Rules – Part I
  52. The Grantor Trust Rules – Part II
  53. The Cost of a Simple Will
  54. The Four Legs of Estate Planning
  55. The Predeceased-Parent Exception
  56. The Alaska Community Property Act
  57. The Creation of Alaska Community Property
  58. Creditors and Alaska Community Property
  59. Exceptions To Step-Up In Tax Basis At Death
  60. Second-to-Die Insurance
  61. Tax Deferral Can Be Costly
  62. Life Insurance Trusts – Part I
  63. Life Insurance Trusts – Part II
  64. Update on Trustee Removal and Appointment Powers
  65. The Cost of a Simple Will in the New Millennium
  66. Who Benefits From Retirement Plans?
  67. Who Benefits From Retirement Plans? Part II
  68. LLCs and Selected Tax Issues
  69. Taxes Will Never Die
  70. Tax-Free Transfers
  71. Family Limited Partnerships
  72. Family Limited Partnerships Part II
  73. Gifting Can Increase Taxes in Certain LLC Conditions
  74. “Repeal” of Estate Taxes
  75. The Gift Tax is Here to Stay
  76. Will Congress Abolish Basis Step-up?
  77. Tax-Free Transfers in 2002 and Beyond
  78. Documents Have Never Been More Complicated
  79. Avoid Greed In Planning
  80. Self-Settled Trusts
  81. Beneficiary Designations
  82. Quality Over Quantity
  83. Gifts In Trust May Be More Valuable
  84. Alaska’s Advance Health Care Directive Changes in 2005
  85. The Future of the Federal Estate Tax
  86. Aircraft and Watercraft Liability
  87. The Future of the Federal Estate Tax-2006 Edition
  88. Full and Fair Disclosure of Assets and Intent
  89. Some Sample Estate Planning Letters
  90. Estate Planning Letters – Part 2
  91. Thinking Outside the Internal Revenue Code
  92. Estate Planning Letters – Part 3
  93. The Future of the Federal Estate Tax – 2008 Edition
  94. Turning Things Upside Down
  95. The High Cost of a Simple Will in 2009
  96. The Future of the Estate Tax-2009 Edition
  97. The Estate Planner’s Business Plan
  98. Sizing Up Life Insurance
  99. Leading a Horse to Water
  100. The 2001 Tax Act is Here
  101. Disinheriting Language
  102. Estate Planning Letters – Part 4
  103. Plan for Harmony
  104. The 2010 Tax Act
  105. Tax-Free Gifts in 2011
  106. 2.1 Million Reasons to Gift in 2012
  107. 2012 May Be Unique
  108. 2012 Is Significant
  109. Dignity & Sportsmanship
  110. Transfer Tax Law Comes to Rest
  111. Keep the Story Alive
  112. Beware of Income Tax Rates & Trusts
  113. Is the Practice of Law a Business?

Copyright 2018 by Bankston Gronning O'Hara, P.C. All rights reserved.