Probate, Trusts, and Fiduciary Litigation

We assist clients with all types of disputes involving trusts, wills, probate estates, and guardianships.

Overview

We represent clients in will and trust contests, claims involving breaches of fiduciary duties, guardianship cases, and actions for reformation of trusts or wills. With extensive trial experience in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Ohio, our lawyers collaborate with the firm’s Trusts and Estates team to provide assistance in disputes at all stages, from pre-suit negotiation to litigation and, ultimately, through to appeal.

Because we work with a broad range of clients on all sides of the table, we can foresee obstacles and effectively pursue favorable outcomes for our clients. In addition to our experience and record of success, we bring a respectful approach and clear, dependable communication that keep families returning to us generation after generation.

Our Clients

  • Individual and charitable beneficiaries
  • Individual and corporate trustees
  • Creditors of an estate or trust
  • Individual and corporate beneficiaries

Our Services

  • Claims involving fiduciary breach of duty arising in trust, guardianship, and probate matters
  • Petitions requesting declaratory judgment relief related to the interpretation and administration of trust instruments, or requesting modification or termination of trust instruments
  • Disputes over tax deficiencies assessed by the Internal Revenue Service related to estate, gift, or fiduciary income tax returns
  • Represented fiduciaries in obtaining favorable private letter rulings from the National Office of the Internal Revenue Service
  • Investment and financial disputes
  • Contested final accountings
  • Will and trust contest cases
  • Contested guardianships
  • Estate creditor claims
  • Elder abuse
  • Undue influence and incapacity
  • Tortious interference with an inheritance
  • Homestead disputes
  • Trustee liability

Our Experience 

  • Provided comprehensive estate, trust, tax, and closely held business planning advice to multiple generations of high-net-worth families. 
  • Prepared numerous estate planning documents, including wills, living trusts, life insurance trusts, generation-skipping trusts, gifting trusts, trusts for minors, charitable trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs), family limited partnerships, and limited liability companies. 
  • Provided assistance to wealthy clients in transferring sufficient wealth through GRATs, sales to grantor trusts, and life insurance trusts tax free during their lives so that they can leave their entire estates, or at least their residuary estates, at death to charity, thereby achieving significant charitable objectives and avoiding an estate tax audit. 
  • Represented parties in numerous caveat proceedings based on undue influence and lack of testamentary capacity.
  • Advised numerous estates and trusts on administration, estate tax, fiduciary income tax, post-mortem, and other planning.
  • Represented trustees of multigenerational trusts with respect to fiduciary and investment issues, including the use of private settlement agreements to achieve certain family goals and the formation and subsequent restructuring of family limited liability companies designed to coordinate investment management among various family trusts.
  • Designed numerous estate and business succession plans for closely held business owners involving business interests valued in excess of $100 million, utilizing tax-efficient planning arrangements, including intentionally defective grantor-retained annuity trusts (IDGTs), sales to grantor trusts, charitable lead trusts, private foundations, various life insurance plans, defined value clauses, qualified personal residence trusts, family limited partnerships, generation-skipping trusts, and other appropriate arrangements.
  • Structured business entities, buy-sell agreements, operating agreements, partnership agreements, and various entity governance arrangements among family members and nonfamily members to facilitate business planning operational goals and to coordinate business succession planning with personal estate planning of the business owners.
  • Represented executors and trustees of multigenerational trusts with respect to fiduciary and investment issues, including the use of private settlement agreements and decanting to achieve certain family goals, and the formation and subsequent restructuring of family LLCs designed to coordinate investment management among various family trusts. 
  • Represented trustees, executors, and beneficiaries in litigated probate and trust matters involving will and trust contests and construction disputes before the probate court, circuit court, and U.S. District Court.
  • Represented shareholders, partners, owners, and officers in business litigation matters involving shareholder disputes, breaches of fiduciary duty, and forced buyouts.