Trust & Estate Litigation
Trust and estate conflicts are particular complex and sensitive due to the tendency for these matters to combine financial disagreements with emotional issues that can divide families. That is why Graydon’s highly regarded Estate Planning attorneys, working with our litigation support team have frequently found creative solutions that avoid protracted litigation, contain costs, and preserve family relationships. When proceedings turn adversarial, however, we work tirelessly to protect and advance your interests, leveraging our extensive experience in resolving trust and estate disputes.
Graydon’s Trust & Estate attorneys represent clients in complex and diverse trust and estate litigation matters. They also advise and counsel clients about fiduciary obligations, interpretation of estate planning instruments, and capacity issues.
Breach of Fiduciary Duty
In our increasingly litigious society, beneficiaries sometime sue fiduciaries for various issues relating to the administration of trusts or estates. Even when the claims are without merit, as can often be the case, fiduciaries are required to defend their actions. We have defended fiduciaries against allegations of improper investing, self-dealing and fraud. We can also help fiduciaries develop “best practices” to better defend against these claims.
Concealment of Assets
When assets are believed to be hidden or stolen, a fiduciary’s duty can require a thoughtful and thorough strategy to recover those assets. Some of these cases involve years of deceit – using shell corporations and complex financial transactions – to prevent discovery of the assets. We have successfully investigated the fraudulent concealment of assets, unraveled the “paper trail,” and recovered assets. We also assist in the recovery of attorneys’ fees incurred by the trust or estate in uncovering the fraud and recovering the assets.
Trust Interpretation and Construction
Proper trust administration begins with a solid and thorough understanding of a trust’s provisions. We have been engaged by trustees to counsel and opine on the meaning of specific trust provisions. We have filed declaratory judgment actions to obtain clarification of obligations of trustees and rights of beneficiaries.
Competency and Undue Influence
Every trust and estate document is required to be executed by one who possesses the capacity to do so and who is free from undue influence. We have represented clients in cases involving claims involving allegations of incapacity and undue influence.