Trust and Estate Litigation
For over twenty years, our firm in Marin County has specialized in litigation involving wills and trusts. We have litigated and resolved through settlement and court trials many matters involving estate disputes. We take pride in the fact that we have represented plaintiffs (petitioners) and defendants (respondents) in these various matters, giving the firm a balanced perspective. We have represented beneficiaries who wish to have the court rule on the validity of wills or trusts. Our clients have included trustees who wish to enforce the terms of trust, and trustees that are accused of violating the terms of the trust. We have represented beneficiaries and trustees when petitions have been filed to compel an accounting by the trustee.
Unfortunately these matters cannot always be settled. This is because emotions generally run high. The matters often involve disputes among family members. Sometimes, one element of the family believes that another family member has been wrongfully favored, or one family member has abused the trust placed in that person by other family members. Another common dispute occurs when the family believes that a trustee, whether a family member or not, is either not performing its duties under the terms of the trust or is abusing its power as trustee. Disputes often arise when blended families are involved and the beneficiaries are children of different parents.
On occasion, people who make wills or trusts to dispose of their property are not forthright during their lifetime with their beneficiaries, creating unmet expectations regarding what one’s inheritance is going to be. On one hand, as a general rule, people have the right to leave their estate as they wish. They do not have to leave their estate to their children or other close relatives. On the other hand, some people, particularly the elderly and infirm, are susceptible to being unduly influenced to leave their estate to someone who is not the true object of the affections of the person making the will or trust.
We have represented clients in numerous matters involving all aspects of trust and will contests in Marin County and across the state. There is a cliché among sportscasters that ‘everyday when you come to the game, you see something you have never seen before.’ That cliché holds true in estate disputes. As a result of the family associations, the actions of the decedent during his or her lifetime, or changed circumstances that were not contemplated, each dispute is unique. We strive to recognize that uniqueness, to deal with our clients in an understanding manner, and to use every effort we can to obtain the best possible result for them.