Trusts and Estates Litigation Group


The experienced professionals in this practice group represent decades of collective experience in trusts and estates and guardianship litigation on behalf of banks, trust departments, individuals and families in dispute resolution in state and federal courts. We also represent guardians appointed under the Mental Hygiene and Guardianship Laws. Members of the group have served as court-appointed guardians ad litem in significant matters and on numerous occasions have acted as trial counsel for corporate and private trust and estate fiduciaries as well as guardians.

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We have acted in a variety of cases in this highly-specialized and burgeoning area of practice, including, by way of example:

  • Will and trust contests, as counsel to proponent or objectant
  • Proceedings to construe wills and trusts
  • Litigation over the actions of an executor, trustee or guardian
  • Proceedings on behalf of guardians to discover and recover assets
  • Contested accounting proceedings in estates, trusts and guardianships
  • Proceedings to remove or surcharge fiduciaries for mismanagement
  • Prosecution and defense of claims against estates and trusts
  • Complex litigation involving provenance and valuation of art works
  • Sophisticated tax litigation involving valuation of assets
  • Estate tax litigation in the United States Tax Court and other federal courts

Our primary concerns are the client’s goals and needs. To this end, we work closely with the firm’s estate planning and trusts and estates administration experts to prevent disputes whenever possible.

When it becomes clear that a dispute can only be resolved by litigation, our seasoned litigators work with the client to conduct litigation risk analysis and design a litigation strategy tailored to achieve the precise goals articulated by the client.

Our clients are kept involved in all critical decisions at every stage of a proceeding: fact gathering and pre-litigation planning; framing the proceeding; preparing the pleadings; document discovery and depositions; mediation or other alternate dispute resolution; motion strategy, preparation and argument; trial or hearing, and appeals. To achieve the client’s goals, we recommend specific tactics to implement the decisions underpinning the theories of the case, while maintaining the flexibility necessary to adapt to changing circumstances, possible new facts unearthed through discovery, changes in the law, or opportunities to recommend an out-of-court settlement at any stage of a proceeding if it will benefit the client. Because of our experience and reputation, we are often able to obtain favorable settlements for our clients during the course of litigation or even before formal litigation begins.

Members of the Trusts and Estates Litigation Group include professionals who are trained as litigators and have routinely practiced in the Surrogate’s courts for many years. As a result of this experience, they possess an in-depth knowledge of the substantive law and procedures unique to trusts and estates disputes as well as a keen awareness and “feel” for the ebb and flow of such cases that can only come from many years of practice in this specialized area. The firm is often sought out to participate in significant disputes involving trusts, estates and guardianship matters. In addition, members of the group have written extensively in the areas of trusts and estates and guardianships, and are often asked to lecture on trusts and estates and guardianship litigation before their peers by Bar Associations, bankers, trust departments and other organizations.

Members of the group have been retained as consultants in trusts and estates litigation and have testified as expert witnesses at trial on issues as varied as fiduciary litigation over alleged violations of professional ethics by other counsel, and fee applications and the valuation of legal services.