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Trust and Probate Litigation

SLG represents beneficiaries, trustees, and other fiduciaries faced with difficult issues that arise from estate planning, trust, probate, and family office arrangements.

The aging of the post-WWII, "Baby Boomer" generation has led to an increase in disputes among heirs and beneficiaries over the allocation and disposition of their parents' assets. In some instances, beneficiaries question the soundness of financial decisions made by trustees, conservators, or special administrators. In other instances, potential beneficiaries whose expectations were not met assert that there was mental, physical, or financial misconduct by caregivers or family members who abused their special position of trust. If these problems cannot be resolved informally, they can result in trust or probate litigation over the following issues:

  • Trustee misconduct and breach of fiduciary duty;
  • Incomplete, inaccurate, or missing fiduciary accountings;
  • Conflicts of interests where a beneficiary also serves in the role of trustee;
  • Negligent preparation of trusts, wills, and other estate planning documents;
  • Lack of testamentary or donative capacity;
  • Elder abuse, fraud, duress, or undue influence by caregivers and family members; and/or
  • Lost, omitted, or mischaracterized real or personal property.

SLG understands the financial and emotional toll that such disputes can take on family members and family friends. First and foremost, we apply our experience, legal knowledge, and creativity to find practical non-litigation solutions for our clients facing such issues.

But when litigation becomes unavoidable, we have the expertise necessary to litigate efficiently and effectively. Where the financial stakes are great or the issues complex, the knowledge and skill required may easily extend beyond the subjects of trust and probate law. Such litigation frequently requires expert testimony from accountants, physicians, or investment professionals. SLG's attorneys bring to these complex matters decades of experience litigating high value securities, real estate, and business fraud cases, and presenting expert testimony in arbitration, trial, and mediation.

Family Office Litigation

Safeguarding wealth intended to benefit multiple generations requires both vigilance by family members and integrity on the part of family office managers and professionals. But occasionally family members are victimized rather than protected by the family office arrangements they have established. Issues that arise include:

  • Violation of investment policy statements or investment guidelines;
  • Financial conflicts of interest on the part of the advisors or other professionals;
  • Fraud and self-dealing by those responsible for protecting the family;
  • Failure by advisors to adequately monitor and supervise the family's investments; and
  • Failure to pursue those whose misconduct has caused financial losses and to diligently seek recovery of those losses where feasible.

SLG has experience both in holding family office managers to account and assisting family office managers seeking to recover assets that have been lost as a result of the misconduct of others.

Representative Cases:

Representation of multi-generation family and trust beneficiaries against family office manager, trustee, and investment advisor (JAMS arbitration).

Defense of co-trustees against alleged breach of fiduciary duty and mismanagement of trust and estate assets involving foreign bank and investment accounts (Probate Court).

Defense of successor trustee against allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, failure to properly manage and dispose of complex real property positions, and failure to investigate conduct of prior trustee (Probate Court).

Representation of beneficiary challenging trust provisions resulting from alleged exercise of undue influence over trustor (Probate Court).

Representation of family office seeking recovery of frozen auction rate securities worth tens of millions of dollars (Pre-filing settlement).

Representation of trustee in litigation against foreign bank and affiliated brokerage seeking losses resulting from the wrongful freezing of trust assets (U.S. District Court).

Representation of executor in arbitration proceeding on behalf of decedent against investment advisor for unsuitable investment advice (FINRA).