Trust & Estate Litigation

Trust and estate litigation is on the rise as Baby Boomers age, and we advance the interests of clients in a broad variety of disputes.

We attack and defend wills, trusts and other estate planning documents that are contested on the grounds of mental incapacity or undue influence. We represent fiduciaries (i.e., administrators and trustees) in disputes over the administration of estates, including the valuation and sale of assets, the sufficiency of accountings, and the handling of discretionary distributions. Our fiduciary clients range from family members with no prior experience handling an estate to private professional fiduciaries and bank trust departments. We also advocate for beneficiaries who have been unable to obtain information, documents or distributions from fiduciaries. We litigate financial elder abuse claims and conservatorship disputes.

This litigation almost always occurs in an emotionally-charged environment. Many of our disputes occur between siblings or between step-parents and step-children.  Our cases require an understanding of each family’s unique history and dynamics. We are able to resolve many disagreements through negotiation and mediation, but family members often have strong feelings and divergent goals such that many disputes can only be resolved through trials.

Trust and estate disputes have unique procedural rules and our clients benefit from our regular practice in the field. Our litigation and estate planning attorneys draw from their respective skill sets to seek optimal outcomes for our clients.

Experience

  • Represented a successor trustee who defended his father’s trust and will against his step-mother’s contest on a theory of undue influence.  The judge ruled in favor of our client following a 25-day trial in Calaveras County that featured testimony from forensic psychiatrists and other witnesses.
  • Represented co-trustees sued for terminating family members who were acting as property managers of a trust-owned shopping center.  After a four-day hearing in Sacramento County, the arbitrator ruled in favor of our clients and awarded them more than $200,000 in legal expenses.
  • Represented a trustee in a petition to settle an accounting.  After a two-day trial in San Joaquin County, the judge overruled the objections of the trustee’s siblings/beneficiaries.
  • Represented an institutional fiduciary as trustee of a trust in a dispute over a general partner’s handling of a limited partnership that owned a valuable property near Lake Tahoe.  After a two-day arbitration in El Dorado County, the judge ruled in favor of our client.
  • Represented claimant in a $15M conservatorship dispute in Fresno County regarding the validity of a holographic (handwritten) will.  Case resolved successfully for our client after the trial began.

Selected Experience
  • Represented a successor trustee who defended his father’s trust and will against his step-mother’s contest on a theory of undue influence.  The judge ruled in favor of our client following a 25-day trial in Calaveras County that featured testimony from forensic psychiatrists and other witnesses.
  • Represented co-trustees sued for terminating family members who were acting as property managers of a trust-owned shopping center.  After a four-day hearing in Sacramento County, the arbitrator ruled in favor of our clients and awarded them more than $200,000 in legal expenses.
  • Represented a trustee in a petition to settle an accounting.  After a two-day trial in San Joaquin County, the judge overruled the objections of the trustee’s siblings/beneficiaries.

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