Estate & Trust Litigation
The estate and trust area produces many different types of disputes, each of which requires a well developed understanding the nuances of each particular subject.
Our attorneys are intimately familiar with planning and administration for estates and trusts and this knowledge is an asset in evaluating contested issues. Estate litigation may arise out of the exercise of ordinary discretion in estate and trust management. The issue of investing has drawn significant attention in recent years and our attorneys work with investment counsel, trustees and accountants to devise an investment policy and risk tolerance for each trust. This firm also represents fiduciaries in preparing and defending accountings and in requesting advice and direction from the court when needed. We also advise charities as beneficiaries of estates in their evaluation of accountings of the administration. Our counsel also extends to charitable trusts and exempt organizations when challenged by government authorities. The estate and trust arena is notorious for direct conflicts between and among family members with estates and trusts serving as the backdrop. Invariably unresolved family issues resurface as part of these disputes and it is important for counsel to understand the difference between a legitimate issue and one that is a proxy for a failed relationship. Conflict may also arise during the conduct of administration as one party may seek to control the decision making. Legitimate issues may arise out of unforeseen circumstances such as the construction of wills and trusts that may only be solved through the courts. One prominent area of estate litigation is the exertion of undue influence by a friend, family member or caretaker. The undue influence may extend to the exercise of authority under a power of attorney, executing beneficiary designations, the creation of joint accounts, as well as to the execution of wills codicils and trusts. Our attorneys are experienced in spotting these situations and in preparing pleadings and prosecuting legal action seeking relief from such acts arising out of confidential relationships as defined by case law. Our discussion of our estate litigation practice would not be complete without mention of our representation in contested tax matters at the state and federal levels. Although administrative appeals are normally pursued before resorting to litigation, our attorneys evaluate each matter in anticipation of litigation should settlement not be reached. We welcome the opportunity to discuss such matters with you.