Experienced Trusts & Estates Litigation Team in the Pacific Northwest
At Garrity Traina, we pride ourselves on having one of the most seasoned Trusts & Estates Litigation teams in the Pacific Northwest. Our group of attorneys, licensed to practice law in Washington, Oregon, and California, excels at handling complex and high-stakes trust and estate cases. We have a proven track record of successfully litigating landmark will contests and trust disputes. One notable case resulted in a 9-0 decision from the Washington Supreme Court, affirming the invalidation of a decedent’s marriage and will due to fraud and undue influence.
Unrivaled Expertise and Comprehensive Support
Our team comprises attorneys, paralegals, and assistants who possess the necessary expertise and advanced degrees in tax law to effectively analyze the intricate financial aspects often involved in trusts and estates litigation. We understand that these cases often touch upon sensitive family dynamics, and we approach them with the utmost care and confidentiality.
Will Contests: Protecting Beneficiaries’ Rights
We proudly represent beneficiaries in their pursuit of their rights, whether it involves challenging the validity of a will or disputing the interpretation of its provisions. Our attorneys work closely with fiduciaries to prevent disputes from arising, and if conflicts do occur, we vigorously defend the will or testamentary instruments. Evaluating historical financial documents, deciphering complex medical reports, and consulting with medical professionals and forensic experts are all part of our comprehensive approach. Our team’s expertise lies in handling issues related to incapacity and undue influence, making us well-equipped to prove or defend claims in this intricate area of the law. We have extensive trial experience and have successfully handled appeals up to Washington’s Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. Notably, we have also achieved favorable settlements prior to trial in numerous will contest cases.
Notable representative cases include:
- In re Estate of Lint: In this nine-week trial, we successfully invalidated a marriage and will on grounds of undue influence and fraud. The Washington State Supreme Court unanimously affirmed our victory.
- In re Estate of Egtvedt: We represented several prominent charities in a suit to invalidate a new will and trust executed by a 96-year-old widow. Through strategic negotiations, we achieved a settlement that greatly benefited the charities.
- In re Estate of Rabinowitz: Our team successfully defended the creation of a charitable trust against challenges from a woman who had married the decedent after his diagnosis of terminal brain cancer. We prevailed at trial and on appeal, defeating attempts to obtain review by the California Supreme Court.
- In re Estate of Rhodehamel: We skillfully defended revisions to the decedent’s estate plan, including the establishment of charitable annuity and remainder trusts, against a challenge brought by a disgruntled daughter. Our successful defense led to a fee award against the challenger and ultimately a six-figure recovery for the estate.
- In re Estate of Calvert and In re Estate of White: These cases involved will contests centered around insane delusions. Through our diligent litigation, we secured favorable settlements on behalf of our clients.
Trust Disputes: Recovering Substantial Assets
Our Foster Garvey team has a proven record of assisting clients in recovering substantial assets when trustees breach their fiduciary obligations. Beyond the technical and tax-related complexities, these cases often elicit strong emotional responses. Through mediation and arbitration, we have successfully resolved numerous trust disputes, often resulting in substantial cost savings compared to lengthy litigation. Washington’s Trust and Estate Dispute Resolution Act, which originated from our firm, grants parties the right to mediate or arbitrate their trust disputes.
Representative trust disputes we have handled include:
- Estate of Evelyn Egtvedt v. Wells Fargo Bank: We pursued damages flowing from the bank’s administration of the trust at the center of the aforementioned will contest. The dispute was resolved favorably for the estate.
- Estate of Evelyn Egtvedt v. Schwabe Williamson: In a related matter, we sought damages for the actions of the widow’s lawyer in connection with changes made to the estate plans. The settlement reached was highly beneficial to the charities involved.
- Benton v. Wells Fargo, Union Bank of California, et al.: We represented the primary beneficiaries of two trusts in a suit against the professional trust departments of two major banks. Our successful litigation exposed failures to comply with trust provisions and resulted in a confidential settlement satisfactory to all parties involved.
- In Re Estate of the James D. Garred Revocable Living Trust: On behalf of a successor trustee, we initiated a legal action to remove the current trustee and fund trusts that should have been established three years prior. Our comprehensive representation addressed various issues stemming from the former trustee’s negligence. Both the former trustee and her counsel faced damages suits, which were ultimately settled.
Contested Guardianships and Vulnerable Adult Protection Actions
Guardianship disputes and vulnerable adult protection actions often necessitate urgent court intervention to safeguard the resources and well-being of the alleged incapacitated individuals. At Garrity Traina, we are adept at swiftly responding to these cases, utilizing emergency court procedures to protect our clients’ interests. Our extensive experience in navigating this highly sensitive area allows us to efficiently achieve the desired outcome, bringing together conflicted family members, social services organizations, court-appointed guardians ad litem, and healthcare professionals.
Handled appropriately, contested guardianships and vulnerable adult protection actions can help prevent future trust and estate disputes. By resolving pre-death conflicts, our team has effectively mitigated the potential for lengthy litigation over the ultimate distribution of estates. Due to the sensitive nature of these matters, which are often sealed from public view, we prefer not to provide specific summaries. However, during our consultation, we will gladly provide a general overview of our experience in this area.
When it comes to trust litigation, Garrity Traina is your trusted partner. Visit our website to learn more about our services and how we can assist you.