Donna Graber, Esq., AEP® , ChFC, CLU, RFC®

Donna Graber, Esq., AEP®

Time seems to be our rarest asset these days and our use of that time plays a major role in what joy we have in our life.

Donna incorporated Planning Sense, Inc. in 1984 as an independent Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) - a bit of a misnomer for a planning only company, but an important registration.  Donna had a clear vision of the kind of firm she wanted to create – a family office that would stand in the gap and pro-actively help clients with all their tax, legal and financial planning.

We all have financial challenges and not having a plan is like stepping off a cliff without looking first.  Donna could see that successful people face the challenge of piecing together a 1000 piece puzzle in dealing with their financial lives.  It can be daunting and many prefer to avoid the hundreds of hours necessary each year to become an expert in coordinating all the tax, legal and financial issues in their lives.  Being your own coach or your own surgeon just doesn’t work.  Do-it-yourself planning just about guarantees dangerous gaps in the plan and misinformation is readily available.

Financial planning was a fledgling industry in the early 1980s when Donna started the first planning company in Syracuse.  In spite of ups and downs and being told she was crazy for going this route, she has created a unique haven for women on their own and other wise individuals who want to delegate their tax, estate and financial planning, so they can spend their precious time on things that cannot be delegated: family, relationships, health, career building, fun in retirement, volunteering and spiritual growth, amongst others. 

Donna graduated from Syracuse University twice – once with a dual degree in voice performance and languages, and then in 2000 with a degree in law.  She passed the bar exam and is admitted to practice – although she chooses to use her legal knowledge solely to help clients with a higher level of planning.  

People often ask her why she decided to go to law school in her 40s.  Donna felt a concentration in tax law would facilitate the help her clients needed, boosting the advice from Planning Sense, Inc. to the highest level available. 

Donna works closely with attorneys and accountants coordinating client relationships. Having a single advisory firm overseeing the big picture in all areas - including wealth management, insurance, tax and legal - gives comprehensive clients the certainty that someone knowledgeable is watching over and simplifying their complex situations.

Dedication to Education

College Coursework
The American College:

HS-332 -  Financial Planning Applications
HS-331 -  Planning for Business Owners
HS-330 -  Fundamentals of Estate Planning
HS-329 -  Wealth Accumulation Planning
HS-328 -  Investments
HS-326 -  Planning for Retirement Needs
HS-325 -  Group Benefits
HS-323 -  Individual Life Insurance
HS-324 -  Life Insurance Law
HS-322 -  The Financial System in the Economy
HS-321 -  Income Taxation
HS-320 -  Fundamentals of Financial Planning
HS-301 -  Economy Security & Life Insurance
GS-815 -  Advanced Estate Planning I
GS-816 -  Advanced Estate Planning II


Syracuse University Law:

Law 722   Federal Income Taxation I
Law 723   Federal Income Taxation II
Law 715   Decedents, Estates and Trusts
Law 717   Estate and Gift Taxation
Law 777   Elder Law
Law 720   Family Law
Law 864   Advanced Estate Planning Seminar
Law 609   Property
Law 603   Contracts
Law 747   Real Estate Transactions
Law 714   Creditors Rights
Law 991   Securities Research  
Law 772   Mediation and Arbitration
Law 703   Deferred Compensation
Law 712   Corporations (Mergers and Re-orgs)
Law 771   Secured Transactions Advanced
Law 753   Taxation of Pass-through Businesses

Teaching Roles
Syracuse University Business School
OCC – Tax Reduction Strategies
Paying for College the Smart Way
CPAs -  Social Security and Medicare, Roth Conversions, Taxation of Life Insurance
OASIS – Changes in long term care, Smart Women
Legacy Love Letter, Family Love Letter
Five Love Languages
Safe People
Update classes including new laws that impact successful seniors

Past Publications & Radio:
WCNY Connected  Magazine
Onondaga County Medical Association Magazine
Radio Show WCNY 1996-2004
Post Standard Financial Makeover

National Speaking Topics:
Running a Financial Planning Practice
Organization and Time Control
Women in Business
Personality Profiles and Team Building

Our dedication to education includes reading a wide assortment of publications in tax, law and finances which are not available to the general public.  It includes a minimum of 350 hours of reading and continuing education.

For information about upcoming classes or to discuss scheduling a smart women session for your group, click the contacts button and send us an email.


Practice Focus
Creative Estate Planning
Custom Financial Planning
Educational Events
Retirement Plans

AEP: Accredited Estate Planner
JD:   Syracuse University Law
ChFC:  American College
CLU:  American College
RFC: Registered Financial Cons.
AB Music:  Syracuse University

ASWA Women Accountants
National Estate Planning Council

Syracuse University (Teaching)
Sunnyside Nursing Home (singing)
Planned Giving help for non-profits
Other teaching and writing
Smart Women Groups


Our Team:

Donna Graber Timothy Morgan