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Catherine Karayan Wilbur

Associate - los angeles


Erudite, Πολυμαθής, is Greek for having or showing great knowledge of learning and best defines Cat and her interest in exploring ancient languages and civilizations. On one of her undergraduate archaeological adventures, as Cat delicately cleared away layer after layer of dirt, she imagined discovering a weathered tablet inscribed with the ancient dialect Linear B, which predates the Greek alphabet by decades and harkens back to a time when symbols were used as a form of communication. Dreaming about who could have inscribed the tablet and what was occurring over 3,000 years ago when it was written captured her imagination and affirmed why she loved these trips.

Cat has a passion for history and classical languages that predates her archaeological Greek excursions. In addition to Latin and Greek, Cat has also studied French, German, and Italian. As a Classics major, Cat enjoyed studying romantic languages because of the joy she experiences when translating complex words and lengthy texts into modern English. Latin and Greek in particular propelled Cat’s passion for Tax Law. Cat loves the intense reading and break down of dense texts (like the U.S. Tax Code) required when translating terms of art into modern English.

As with ancient languages, Cat embraces that same regard for delicateness and integrity when dealing with her clients and experiences that same joy when she translates the wishes of her clients in the preparation of their exemption applications, trusts, and other estate planning documents. Cat’s experience in expertly translating these ancient languages is ever present in her mind as she carefully stewards her clients down the path of protecting their own legacies through the estate planning process.


Legal Expertise

Catherine Karayan Wilbur is an attorney specializing in the effect of wealth transfer taxes on estate planning and estate administration. Her experience brings a unique perspective as she counsels clients on their charitable contributions and charitable organizations on their tax exemption. 

Prior to joining MSK, Catherine practiced in Santa Barbara, California, and clerked for the Honorable Kathleen Kerrigan at the United States Tax Court in Washington, D.C. She is a native of Southern California.

Representative Matters

  • Counseled clients on creation of South Dakota and Delaware directed trusts.
  • Obtained tax-exempt status from the IRS and California for charitable organization.
  • Successfully received a Private Letter Ruling from the IRS that allowed the client to elect for portability.
  • Advised clients on US tax implications of a gift of art from German family members.

Professional, Business and civic Affiliations

University Club of Santa Barbara, Board Member (2016-2017)

Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, Board Member (2014-2017)

Federal Bar Association, Section on Taxation Young Tax Lawyers Division, Co-Chair (2013-2014)

Other Career Experience

Associate, Ambrecht & Associates (2014-2017)

Clerk, Hon. Kathleen Kerrigan, United States Tax Court, Washington, DC (2012-2014)




  • U.S. Tax Court


  • Clerk, Hon. Kathleen Kerrigan, United States Tax Court, Washington, DC


New York University School of Law, LL.M., 2012

University of Southern California, Gould School of Law, J.D., 2011

Washington University in St. Louis, B.A., with honors (2008)

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