Estate & Trust Litigation

Disputes that are the fallout from the death or incompetency of a family member require practical advice and controlled, but zealous advocacy. More often than not, estate and trust litigation involves closely held businesses. This provides an added cloak of complexity invoking shareholder rights and issues over ownership and control. James, McElroy & Diehl, P.A.’s lawyers have been in the trenches in high stakes battles over the assets and administration of estates and trusts. Areas in which we have had success in representing our clients have included, but are not limited to:

  • Will Contests (a.k.a. Will Caveats)
  • Guardianship Representation
  • Modifying and Terminating Trusts
  • Removal of Trustees
  • Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claims
  • Claims Arising from the Abuse of Elderly
  • Spousal Right to an Elective Share

Examples of recent disputes where lawyers in the firm have obtained good results for their clients are:

Breach of Fiduciary Duty and Conflict of Interest Claims Against Guardian
In a multimillion dollar estate, Fred B. Monroe defended an attorney appointed in a guardianship, and then subsequently, an estate proceeding. The estate plan adopted by the guardian with court approval included the formation of multiple closely held companies which subsequently made transfers of interests in the companies to beneficiaries of the incompetent. The Clerk of Court removed the guardian based upon a perceived conflict of interest. Ultimately, a favorable result was obtained for the client. The trial court reversed the Clerk of Court’s decision, and subsequently, a favorable resolution was obtained through a family settlement agreement.

Will Contest (a.k.a. Will Caveat) and Claims of Breach of Fiduciary Duty Under Power of Attorney
Fred B.  Monroe represented the daughter of the decedents in claims to set aside a will due to lack of testamentary capacity and under influence.  Additional claims were asserted against the client’s sibling for breach of fiduciary duty by making transfers under a power of attorney. Ultimately, the dispute was resolved on terms satisfactory to client.

Removal of Trustee
Fred B. Monroe defended a Trustee in claims arising from the alleged misappropriation of the corpus of a trust. The case was resolved on favorable terms.

Termination of Trust
Fred B. Monroe successfully represented the beneficiaries of a trust in their petition to terminate the trust on the grounds that the primary purpose of the trust no longer existed.

Constructive Trust and Breach of Fiduciary Duty
Fred B. Monroe defended a daughter and grandson from claims brought by the administrator of the decedents’ estates arising out of transfers to them just prior to the death of their relatives. The court dismissed all claims with prejudice.

Declaration of Invalidity of Will
In the face of claims of abuse of the elderly, Pender R. McElroy and Fred B. Monroe represented the sole beneficiary, the granddaughter, of the decedent in claims to have a subsequent will declared invalid. In this pro bono case, the subsequent will was held invalid and the granddaughter therefore inherited the family home.

Constructive Fraud and Waste of Assets of Closely Held Business
Mickey Aberman, Jared Gardner, and Fred Monroe represented the beneficiary of a multimillion dollar estate in claims arising out of transfers of estate assets and the beneficiary’s rights as a shareholder of a closely held corporation. Ultimately, after a series of hearings in which favorable rulings for the client were obtained, the dispute was resolved on terms satisfactory to the client.