Sarah E. Messersmith


    Sarah is a Hampton native and a member of the Private Client Services Group in the Newport News office of Kaufman & Canoles. Sarah is passionate about her estate practice and working with clients to help them achieve their goals. Her estate planning and administration work with clients ranges from the initial structuring and implementation of their estate plans to the resulting estate and trust administration. Sarah helps clients create wills, revocable and irrevocable trusts, powers of attorney and advance medical directives and assists clients with tax planning and succession planning issues. She also represents clients who are administering an estate or trust after a family member has died, providing assistance through the trust implementation or probate process. Sarah has background in real estate and corporate work, and frequently represents clients who have real estate holdings and ownership of small businesses. Sarah also serves as a Commissioner of Accounts for the City of Hampton, which entails the review and audit of filings made by fiduciaries for estates, trusts, guardianships, conservatorships, and foreclosures.

    Representative Matters

    • Represented estates involving substantial assets, multiple beneficiaries, issues about advancement of inheritance and complex accounting reports to the Commissioner of Accounts
    • Represented clients with complex tax and estate planning needs, including preparation of and funding revocable living trusts, and preparation of trusts to provide for children upon the death of both parents
    • Represented estates with substantial real estate holdings, many with other owners, requiring strategizing as to disposition, including sale, exchange and/or distribution to beneficiaries
    • Represented estates with ongoing business operations and preparation of associated corporate and company documents necessary to transfer ownership of entities

    Recognition & Honors

    • Virginia Super Lawyers Rising Stars; Estate Planning and Probate, 2017-2019
    • Top Lawyers; CoVaBIZ Magazine, 2019-2021
    • LEAD Peninsula, Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, Class of 2016
    • Junior League of Hampton Roads Liz Jones Community Commitment Award, 2014
    • Articles Editor; William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law, 2004-2005


    • Commissioner of Accounts; 8th Judicial Circuit, Virginia, 2020 – Present
    • Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors, 2019 – Present
    • Peninsula SPCA, Board of Directors, 2013 – Present
      – President, 2020 – Present
      – First Vice President, 2016 – 2019
    • Hampton Public Library Foundation, Board of Directors, 2016 – Present
      – President, 2020 – Present
      – Secretary/Treasurer, 2016 – Present
    • Hampton Bar Association, 2005 – Present
    • Virginia Bar Association, 2005 – Present
      – Young Lawyers Division Executive Council, 2006 – 2014
    • Newport News Bar Association, 2012 – 2020
    • Peninsula Estate Planning Council, 2011 – Present
      – Board of Directors, 2020 – Present
    • Junior League of Hampton Roads, 2010 – 2014
    • Virginia Living Museum, Board of Trustees, 2018 – Present
    • Sarah Bonwell Hudgins Foundation, Board of Trustees, 2008 – 2018
      – President, 2014 – 2017
      – First Vice President, 2011 – 2014
      – Associate Treasurer, 2010 – 2011


    • College of William & Mary; B.S., summa cum laude, 2002
    • William & Mary Law School; J.D., 2005

    Press & Publications