Epstein Law Firm has more than 25 years of experience in handling trust, estate, and fiduciary litigation, including will and trust contests.
Litigation involving decedents' estates can include actions against trustees, personal representatives, and more. Sometimes a dispute may arise prior to the death of the trustor (or testator), when there is suspicion that gifts or changes in an estate plan are the product of undue influence or diminished mental capacity. Alternatively, such claims can be made after the death of the person involved. The litigation often involves interpretation of estate planning documents, and frequently delves into the trustor or testator’s mental and physical health, as well as his or her relationships with family, friends, and caregivers.
The following are examples of trust, estate, and fiduciary litigation handled by Epstein Law Firm
- The firm currently represents the surviving spouse of a decedent (the trustee of decedent’s trust) in a contest brought by decedent’s sons to attempt to invalidate the trust based on claims of lack of legal mental capacity and undue influence.
- The firm successfully petitioned Marin County Court to transfer assets that were not specifically identified by trust documents. Such assets have included artwork and parcels of real property.
- The firm currently represents a former trustee in an action filed by the California Attorney General alleging breach of fiduciary duty and other claims related to a charitable foundation.
- The firm currently is defending a friend of a decedent and a partial beneficiary of decedent’s assets against claims of undue influence brought by the decedent’s children.
- A 56-year-old man acquired substantial cash and assets — including a Southern California vacation home — from a 73-year-old woman who was suffering from substantial physical and mental disabilities. When a local bank substituted as trustee for the woman, the bank hired the firm, which initiated a civil action for fraud, undue influence, and other claims. The firm obtained a court order requiring that the defendant stay away from the woman and have no contact with her, and obtained a settlement of the monetary claims.
- The firm has handled various cases involving petitions to the Court for instructions regarding the interpretation of trust documents, and requiring trustees to prepare and distribute accountings of their activities to all beneficiaries.
- The Marin County Court appointed the firm to represent a 91-year-old man in connection with his proposed multi million dollar cash gift to his spouse which resulted in litigation filed by his children from a prior marriage.
- The firm defended an undue influence/elder abuse action filed by the decedent's daughter against a friend of the decedent’s who was the partial beneficiary of a survivor’s trust.
- The firm successfully defended a trustee against breach of fiduciary duty and surcharge claims brought by the sole beneficiary and obtained a court order approving the trustee’s accounting.
- The firm was contacted when a brother and sister were concerned that their third sibling planned to move their mother — who was suffering from dementia —from an assisted living facility to his home. The firm assisted in resolving the family crisis without litigation.
- The firm represented two brothers in litigation involving their other brothers and sister concerning the interpretation of their mother’s trust. The firm successfully obtained the court’s order approving a settlement over the objection of one of the brothers.
- The firm represented a 90-year-old man in a dispute with his former domestic partner regarding the division of assets, and powers of attorney that she had obtained when he was hospitalized. The case resolved at mediation.
- Elderly parents were in litigation with their daughter concerning the initiation of an involuntary conservatorship action and the daughter’s use of trust assets over a several year period. The firm represented the court-appointed fiduciary. A settlement was achieved at mediation.
- A brother accused his sister of converting property from their late mother’s estate. The firm assisted the sister in obtaining a settlement and dismissal of the action pending against her.
- Three siblings contested their mother’s will, which provided a substantial benefit to a fourth sibling and a non-relative. The firm represented the defendants and successfully resolved the matter at mediation.
- A contest was filed against a will that benefited an in-home caregiver who had provided services to the decedent. The case resolved at mediation.
- The firm defended a trustee against his brother’s claims of breach of fiduciary duty in connection with the administration of their mother’s estate. The case resulted in a settlement.
- The firm represented a sister in a breach of fiduciary action filed against her sister who served as trustee of their late mother’s trust. The parties resolved the case at a court mandatory settlement conference.
- The firm represents the conservator in several ongoing conservatorship cases in the Marin County Court.
Trust, Estate and Fiduciary Litigation Attorneys