Frequently in probate matters, it is necessary to work closely with other professionals to provide our clients with multidisciplinary services. Our attorneys have significant experience working with tax, medical, and financial professionals.

Our Probate Litigation practice group consists of attorneys skilled in all aspects of probate litigation, including will contests, interpretation of wills and trusts, reformation of trusts, guardianships, financial conservatorships, fiduciary accountings, as well as a variety of legal issues concerning estate administration. Our clients include beneficiaries as well as institutional and private fiduciaries.

Our probate litigators have extensive experience trying complex, hotly contested probate matters, representing clients in state and federal courts. Disputed probate matters often require creative, technical, practical solutions to resolve emotionally charged and complex legal and financial issues. Our seasoned probate litigators have the expertise, temperament, and analytical focus to approach these issues with both reason and skill. In circumstances involving the need for psychiatric treatment or hospitalization, we respond quickly and knowledgeably and are sensitive to related family issues.

We often represent persons petitioning the Probate Court to be appointed Guardian or Conservator of a family member. We ensure that our client understands their fiduciary responsibilities and accounting requirements to the Probate Court in connection with their appointment.

We also recognize that mediation or other forms of negotiated resolution are frequently in our clients’ best interests, and we are experienced in preparing for and participating in that process.

Our probate litigators frequently lecture at continuing legal education programs for members of the bar. We often represent attorneys when they are acting in a fiduciary capacity and in need of counsel. In addition, we regularly advise estate planners on strategies to avoid potential future probate litigation.

Representative Matters:
  • In a will contest, representing the fiduciary of the estate, we were able to defeat the claims of undue influence and lack of capacity on the part of the testator.  Significant issues in the case involved claims of children from two different marriages and considering previous wills containing similar provisions to the will that was allowed.  Also as part of this case we were able to strike the appearance and objection of a child who had been adopted some years earlier.
  • We represented the estate and the fiduciary of the estate in a claim by a child who said that she was left out of the estate and should participate.  There was a significant amount of money at issue.  We were successful in having the will allowed and then defeating the claim of the omitted child by pointing out that the omission had not been accidental or inadvertent, but was consciously done by testator.  We have had similar cases where we have represented the omitted child.  In those instances, we were able to prove that the testator was mistaken in his thought that the child had to be left out of his estate because she had been living with the mother and her new husband.
  • We represented beneficiaries of an estate claiming that the trustee was favoring income beneficiaries during their lifetime, rather than managing the assets in a conservative manner so as to have something left over for the remainderman beneficiaries.  Typical of the litigation involving fiduciaries is the duty owed by the fiduciary to various classes of beneficiaries, the methodology of accounting and reporting to the beneficiaries, and the difference between a trustee acting as a lawyer, charging various hourly rates, and acting as a trustee, which warrant and demand lower hourly rates or lower rates.
  • We successfully contested the appointment of a proposed guardian for a mentally ill person on the grounds that the proposed guardian was unsuitable due to a conflict of interest. On behalf of an estate, we successfully argued for the Probate Court to strike objections to a will in a multi-million dollar estate thereby allowing for the probating of the will and appointment of the named executor under the will.
  • We successfully defended an estate against a claim brought by a woman claiming to be the surviving girlfriend of the decedent.
  • We successfully represented a client by demonstrating that a joint bank account was intended to be a gift to our client and not a probate asset of an estate.
  • We successfully represented a client in a real estate partition action causing the property to be sold at fair market value and the proceeds of sale divided favorably for our client.
  • When necessary, we obtain instructions from the Probate Court as to how a fiduciary client should administer a trust or a will when the underlying instrument is ambiguous or there is uncertainty.

How Can We Help?

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