Trusts, Estates and Fiduciary Dispute Resolution

  • Holland & Knight's Trusts, Estates and Fiduciary Dispute Resolution Team is comprised of seasoned trial lawyers with extensive experience representing corporate and individual trustees, executors, administrators, guardians and beneficiaries in probate courts throughout the United States.
  • We have resolved a wide range of trust and estate disputes, including complaints for breach of fiduciary duty, self-dealing and conflicts of interest, complaints for instructions, complaints for reformation, complaints for removal of fiduciaries, and will and trust contests.
  • Our team works with clients to prevent, negotiate, settle and litigate disputes so they may avoid costly losses and judgments.

The Holland & Knight Trusts, Estates and Fiduciary Dispute Resolution Group focuses on the representation of corporate and individual trustees, executors, administrators, guardians, conservators and conservatees, counseling them in litigation prevention, dispute settlement and litigation involving the prosecution or defense of various issues including:

  • breaches of fiduciary duties (e.g., self-dealing, conflicts of interest)
  • accountings
  • prudent investing
  • petitions for court instructions and reformation
  • suspension and removal of fiduciaries
  • alleging or protection from an allegation of undue influence and fraudulent conveyances
  • interpretation of and advocacy or defense of testamentary capacity and decedent’s intent

We have represented our clients in local, civil, probate and surrogate courts as sole or co-counsel and have also appeared pro hac vice in numerous jurisdictions across the country.

Our Dispute Resolution attorneys provide our clients with distinct strategic and tactical advantages given our extensive knowledge of Probate Codes and the nuanced procedures of the probate and surrogate courts – the statutory authority and venue under which nearly all trust, probate, guardianship and conservatorship matters are adjudicated. To effectively and efficiently counsel our clients, we apply a collaborative and cross-disciplinary analytical approach with other disciplines such as estate planning for high-net-worth clients, trust and probate administration, real estate, bankruptcy, corporate and securities law, as well as complex civil and appellate law.

Our collaborative capabilities are provided by Holland & Knight’s diverse and comprehensive legal practices which include the largest private wealth legal team in the United States. Holland & Knight’s Private Wealth Services Group is proud to have the single largest number of Fellows in the prestigious American College of Trust & Estate Counsel (ACTEC) of any law firm in the country. Our Private Wealth Services attorneys actively contribute to the continual evolution of trust and estate law by publishing numerous articles and delivering presentations to other attorneys, associations and public governing bodies.

Litigation Prevention

Corporate, charitable and individual fiduciaries alike are held to the highest standards of fiduciary duty, good faith and accountability, which is why fiduciaries and their attorneys retain us to review and consult on their policies, practices and proposed actions. Our Trusts, Estates and Fiduciary Dispute Resolution attorneys examine and measure each client's current policies and practices against national or state standards for acceptable fiduciary conduct, such as the Uniform Prudent Investor Act, Uniform Principal and Income Act, and malpractice standards. We then recommend appropriate changes to each client's policies, practices and specific actions, and follow-up periodically to ensure ongoing effective implementation.

Dispute Settlement

Our Trusts, Estates and Fiduciary Dispute Resolution attorneys seek all court-sanctioned means to resolve disputes out of court, including private settlements, mediation or arbitration. Our goal is to gain the most favorable settlement arrangements; therefore, our approach is based on our research, knowledge and experience in these areas of the law.

Research

Research involves labor-intensive and meticulous review and subsequent analysis of all documents and chronological development on the disputed matter – a critical necessity to enable us to thoroughly understand the strengths and weaknesses of both the opposing party and those of our client. Our Trusts, Estates and Fiduciary Dispute Resolution attorneys are trained to use this research to expose the opposing parties’ weaknesses and fortify our clients’ weaknesses.

Knowledge

Knowledge includes a thorough understanding of all facets of trusts and estates law and the respective legal trends in subject states and across the country. Knowledge enables our Trusts, Estates and Fiduciary Dispute Resolution attorneys to develop cogent and supportable legal arguments and diminish the opposing parties’ legal arguments.

Experience

Our experience includes the effective application of our comprehensive knowledge, and the formalities of the Probate Court and the adjudicating tendencies of its judges. Experience is never developed overnight, but rather, as it is with our Trusts, Estates and Fiduciary Dispute Resolution Group, honed, refined and battle-tested after years of negotiating settlements and litigation. We have obtained numerous favorable settlements, even when our clients’ positions initially seemed vulnerable to attack. Holland & Knight is pleased to have been awarded the most first-tier rankings in the United States in Litigation - Trusts and Estates in the U.S. News - Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" guide (2013).