Litigation

Trust, Estate and Probate Litigation

Our Trust, Estate and Probate Litigation attorneys represent individuals and corporations in all aspects of litigation regarding the administration of trusts and estates. We address challenges to the validity and interpretation of estate planning documents, defend executors and trustees against claims relating to the administration of estates and trusts, and protect the interests of beneficiaries.

Clients rely on us not only to represent them in various courts, but also to resolve matters in an effort to avoid litigation.

Our litigators, estate planners, and tax attorneys work together to make sure that we maximize the opportunities for our clients to resolve their cases in the most cost-effective and financially beneficial manner.

Clients rely on us not only to represent them in various courts, but also to resolve matters in an effort to avoid litigation. We assist with the drafting and negotiation of global settlement agreements to protect rights and release claims, private settlement agreements to address trust issues, and fiduciary indemnification agreements.

We also regularly represent our clients in mediation, if they choose to resolve matters in that manner or are ordered to do so by a court. With the drafting experience of our estate planners and the advocacy experience of our litigators, we are uniquely positioned to achieve the best possible outcome for our clients.

Our attorneys also establish guardianships and are involved in the ongoing administration of contested guardianship matters, protecting vulnerable individuals from neglect or financial exploitation.

Our Experience

  • Represented corporate executor in an action to invalidate a trust, beneficiary designation, and financial power of attorney obtained by undue influence that were used to transfer assets to an extended family member
  • Represented a surviving spouse in a challenge to the validity of a marriage and elective share rights
  • Defended a corporate trustee in a declaratory judgment action seeking to determine rights in multi-generational trusts of decedent’s children who were adopted as adults
  • Represented the daughter of a decedent in defense of a constructive trust claim involving the decedent's former residence
  • Represented a son against a daughter in recovery of multiple pre-death transfers by their mother
  • Represented a trustee, as the residuary beneficiary of an estate, to defeat the claim that a holographic will allegedly signed days before a testator’s death diverted estate assets to another individual
  • Successfully defended corporate trustees against beneficiaries’ claims of misconduct
  • Drafted and negotiated beneficiary waivers and releases on behalf of corporate fiduciaries at the termination of trusts or upon the removal or resignation of the fiduciaries as trustees of trusts
  • Represented trust beneficiaries in actions removing trustees and appointing successor trustees
  • Filed multiple complaints for declaratory judgment seeking court guidance on the interpretation of trust agreements
  • Filed motions for cy pres in cases involving charitable interests
  • Represented beneficiaries and fiduciaries in actions to reform trust agreements
  • Drafted a private settlement agreement among trustee and beneficiaries to modify trust terms without seeking a court order
  • Participated in mediations involving actions concerning the validity of a will, the removal of the first-named executor, breaches of fiduciary duty, and mismanagement of trust assets
  • Represented a professional guardian in the defense of final accounting challenges to various expenditures on behalf of ward
  • Represented the children of grantor to compel distribution from the trustee of grantor’s trust
  • Defended executor against objections to estate account
  • Represented a disinherited daughter in a challenge to a will procured by her brother
  • Represented intestate heirs in defense of action to establish a lost will and later surcharge case against removed personal representative
  • Represented the children of an incompetent parent in obtaining appointment as guardian and thereafter conducting significant tax planning

What We Do

  • Defense and prosecuting the validity and construction of wills
  • Defending executors and trustees against claims of breach, including alleged mismanagement, failure to inform and report, mismanagement, and self-dealing
  • Actions to determine and enforce rights under wills and trust agreements
  • Drafting and negotiating global and private settlement agreements among those interested in estates and trusts
  • Representing fiduciaries and beneficiaries in the drafting and negotiating of releases and distribution of assets upon the termination of trusts
  • Representing beneficiaries in the removal and replacement of executors or trustees
  • Representing creditors enforcing claims against estate or trust assets
  • Actions to invalidate documents for undue influence or incapacity and for tortious interference with expectancy of inheritance
  • Elder exploitation claims and asset recovery
  • Actions to appoint guardians, to administer guardianships, and relating to contested guardianships

Related Media & Events

  1. Alerts
    You Get a Car! Everybody Gets a Car! - Jul 12, 2017
    Dismissal with Prejudice Too Severe a Sanction for Failure to File Mediation Certification of Authority - Sep 27, 2016
  2. Articles
    The Fiduciary Lawyer-Client Privilege: A Long Road to Confidentiality - Jun 1, 2018
    Joint Trusts - Too Much Togetherness? - Mar 4, 2018
    Avoiding probate and protecting assets - Nov 3, 2017 - Columbus Business First
    Uh Oh: When Non-Residents Who Own Homes in a Trust Become Florida Residents - 2017 - Naples Daily News Special Section, Estate Planning Guide
    The saga of a $24,600,000.00 trustee fee - March 2016
    Celebrity Estate Planning Mistakes - and How to Avoid Them - 2016 - Naples Daily News Special Section, Estate Planning Guide
    Trust protectors: 4th DCA issues decision - April 2015 - Adverse Witness, Collier County Bar Association
    Trust Protectors: The Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal Issues a Trailblazing Decision - 2015 - Docket (Sarasota Bar Assoc); Bulletin (Dade Bar Assoc.; The Lawyer (Hillsborough Bar Assoc)
    Portability comes with a catch - Nov 14, 2011
    Estate Planning for the Nontraditional Family: Toto, I've a Feeling We're Not in Kansas Anymore - September/October 2011 - Probate Law Journal of Ohio
    Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts: Heads You Win, Tails You Tie - Dec 1, 2010 - Crain's Cleveland Business News
    Death of a Single Mother Without a Will Makes Her Friends Realize Document's Importance - 2009 - Naples Daily News Estate Planning Guide
    Making Grandkids Rich - 2006 - Columbus C.E.O.
    A Guide to Guardianship: Elderly the Most Frequent Beneficiary - 2003 - Naples Daily News Estate Planning Guide
    Estate Planning Using Sales To "Defective" Trusts - Mar 1, 2000
  3. Firm News
    Roetzel Attorney Chris Donovan Recertified in Appellate Practice by Florida Bar - Jan 9, 2019
    Donovan and Schwinghamer Sworn in as Directors of the Collier County Bar Association - Jun 15, 2018
    Steven Cox Honored as 2018 Recipient of Dr. Frank L. Simonetti Distinguished Business Alumni Award - Apr 20, 2018
    Attorney Jamie B. Schwinghamer Joins Roetzel & Andress LPA - Apr 18, 2018
    Roetzel & Andress Ranked in 2018 "Best Law Firms" List - Nov 2, 2017
    Roetzel Opens New Columbus Office Custom-Built for Next Generation - Jun 19, 2017
    Christopher D. Donovan Assumes Presidency of Collier County Bar's Young Lawyers Section - Jun 1, 2015
    Roetzel & Andress Ranked in 2015 "Best Law Firms" - Nov 3, 2014