Estate and trust disputes occur more often than you might think. The death of a parent or other relative often leads to strong and deep-seated emotions and even resentments. Despite the best intentions of the person who created the will or trust instrument at issue, conflicts over a will or trust can lead to litigation, which costs money, demands time and close attention, and often leaves those involved feeling cheated, bruised, overlooked or unloved. An experienced probate and trust litigation attorney can help minimize the ongoing consequences of disputes over a will, trust, or other estate-related matters.

We help people reduce the likelihood of probate and trust litigation, and we act as advocates when litigation becomes unavoidable or necessary at the time to try to help resolve a dispute. We excel at developing creative solutions, advocating forcefully in court, and advising clients about the possible outcomes of a lawsuit, including helping clients address the emotional and psychological aspects of inheritance disputes.

Litigation is often not the only available approach. We vigorously advocate for clients’ interests in court and at the negotiating table, and we help clients consider cost-benefit analyses of litigation. We know and appreciate it is the client’s decision whether to proceed on a given matter. Decisions can be made by clients on other grounds, and they may not be ready to decide on a dollars-and-cents basis what course of action is right for them. We remind clients to consider the economic and financial implications, the litigation risks, and the intangible hazards and benefits, all based on each client’s unique appetite for risk, before moving forward in a direction that’s right for them.

The non-financial costs of litigation are just as critical as the financial ones. Probate and trust disputes can leave families divided and inflict wounds that could take decades or generations to heal. We advise clients to consider both the financial and the emotional and other intangible costs of probate or trust litigation before proceeding. The emotional issues can revolve around inheritance rights, but often they’re triggered by family issues that can go back decades. Once a client decides to move forward, we will vigorously represent our client’s interests.

Our legal practice addresses the following areas:

  • Probate Disputes: These disputes involve will contests, questions of undue influence and capacity, and defense or removal of fiduciaries. They may include disagreement over the meaning of a will, or if the will was executed under undue influence or while the person making the will lacked the capacity to do so. They may also involve claims made by creditors, including those made after the applicable statutes of limitation expire.

  • Trust Disputes: Trust disputes can arise in a broad range of areas. They may be based on a trustee’s failure to meet its fiduciaries duties to the trust’s beneficiaries. These can include the trustee’s not investing prudently or not adhering to the investment standards required by the trust document. Trust disputes often challenge a trustee’s accounting practices used to weight the trust’s assets. They may also arise from the failure to file the proper tax returns or disclosure statements.

  • Will and Trust Contests: These often involve a dispute among family members, heirs, or other interested parties over a will or a trust. We can help resolve those issues.

  • Business Succession and Inheritance Issues: Dividing up a business after the death of a founding, sole or partial owner in a family-owned or other closely held business can fuel disputes that may require litigation to resolve.

  • Fiduciary Litigation: We represent fiduciaries or beneficiaries in matters concerning breach of fiduciary duty allegations, including proceedings to remove a fiduciary. These matters can arise from charges of mismanagement of financial assets, the improper sale of real estate, or the failure to properly operate or protect a family business.

  • Financial Exploitation of Vulnerable Adults: We represent people who believe an elderly or disabled family member, colleague or friend is being financially exploited. Powers of attorney and emotional bullying are frequently part of the toolbox used to financially exploit vulnerable adults.