Estate & Trust Litigation

PRACTICE AREA CONTACT : Kevin M. Murphy

Many sophisticated estate plans include potential trigger points for disagreement among beneficiaries, contingent beneficiaries, trustees, and personal representatives. Carr Maloney represents persons who become involved in disputes over estate or trust plans and administration. These matters often require intricate financial and litigation strategies. Our many years of experience in complex business, accounting and fiduciary litigation enable us to provide our clients with the insight and confidence to deal with the multi-faceted issues often central to estate and trust litigation and disputes.

Estate Disputes

Carr Maloney represents beneficiaries and/or contingent beneficiaries in will contests (“caveat proceedings”) where the issues often relate to the testamentary capacity of the testator (the one who made the will), or to undue influence applied upon the testator that results in will provisions detrimental to certain beneficiaries. We also advise and represent personal representatives, who must defend the will and administer estates efficiently and effectively. Our attorneys sometimes represent the Personal Representative in defending claims brought by disgruntled beneficiaries, or we will sometimes litigate on behalf of the Personal Representative seeking to collect or gain control of assets for the estate. We work with any of a number of accounting firms with whom we have relationships to assist our clients to achieve the best outcome. While financial issues are central in most estate disputes, we also stay alert to ways in which we can help our clients deal with the emotional and interpersonal strains that can accompany such litigation.

Trust Disputes

Personal financial and estate plans typically include various forms of trust arrangements, such as revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, and life insurance trusts. Depending on the type of trust, key provisions may include not only distribution clauses, but also spendthrift clauses, “ascertainable standards” provisions, trustee powers, trustee succession, and a host of other provisions. Disputes and litigation may arise in multiple ways. Examples include disputes over the trustee’s exercise of fiduciary duties, disputes over a trustee’s potential conflict of interest, questions of title to trust property, and disagreements over management and/or distribution of trust assets. Carr Maloney frequently represents trustees, who may seek advice about their exercise of discretion in managing or distributing trust assets. Often, we defend trustees from allegations by beneficiaries or contingent beneficiaries that a trustee has not properly complied with the terms of the trust instrument or with fiduciary duties. We also represent trustees in litigation to recover or claim assets for the benefit of the trust. Finally, Carr Maloney represents beneficiaries and contingent beneficiaries when necessary to protect their interests, such as when a trustee has failed to properly manage, account for, or distribute trust assets.

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