Estate, Trust & Fiduciary Litigation

The transfer of property from one generation to the next is wrought with difficult legal and tax issues.

Questions families often grapple with include:  Is mom competent to sign the house over to one child? Is dad competent to sign a trust document that excludes a different child? Is mom’s judgment colored by her daughter who lives next door to her? Is your sister who is in charge of your mother’s finances not sharing information with you? Is your brother handling the probate of your father’s estate correctly? Who’s looking over your sister’s shoulder while she is serving as power of attorney for your parents? Where are the checks and balances for your brother who is serving as trustee of your parents’ trust?  Do siblings suspect you are not carrying out the wishes expected of you by your aging parents?

Caring for family members can sometimes create complicated dynamics within families.  Emotional situations can breed conflict.  Our attorneys approach each matter with empathy and clarity, collaborating to provide clients with the best possible advice.

Our representation can begin when family members are living or after they’ve passed – our services are full circle.  We represent trustees and beneficiaries of trusts when questions exist and disputes arise, we work with parties in will contests and probate litigation matters, and we counsel agents acting pursuant to powers of attorneys to help prevent them from being sued and to defend them when they are sued. We also handle contested guardianship matters.

Our recent experience in the area of estate and fiduciary litigation includes:

  • Successful representation of a creditor whose rights were significantly impaired by the conduct of an agent acting under a durable power of attorney;
  • Successful representation of an agent acting under a durable power of attorney in the dismissal of a guardianship petition;
  • Successful representation to obtain guardianship and protective placement when resisted by the ward;
  • Successful representation of an elderly adult who opposed guardianship proceedings initiated by children;
  • Successful reformation of an irrevocable trust to appoint a new trustee selected by trust beneficiaries;
  • Successful removal of a guardian on behalf of a ward in a guardianship proceeding;
  • Successful petition to have trust assets returned to the original owner; and
  • Successful removal of a trustee on behalf of a trust beneficiary.

Examples of estate and fiduciary litigation matters handled by Ruder Ware attorneys include:

  • Will contests
  • Lack of testamentary capacity to make a will
  • Lack of capacity to execute a trust
  • Undue influence
  • Mistake
  • Fraud
  • Forgery
  • Trust reformation and amendment
  • Interpretation and construction proceedings
  • Noncompliance with formalities
  • Breach of fiduciary duty
  • Financial abuse and exploitation of the elderly
  • Financial abuse and exploitation of disabled individuals and minors
  • Capacity to gift, convey real estate, and to contract
  • Capacity to execute power of attorney documents

Founded in 1920, Ruder Ware provides business, employment, estate planning, and litigation services through its offices in Wausau, Eau Claire, and Green Bay, Wisconsin.  A full-service law firm, over 40 attorneys provide clients with a one-stop approach to their legal needs. Ruder Ware, Business Attorneys for Business Success.

Getting Started: Estate Planning for Young Families

Posted on January 15, 2020 by

For many people, the first time they start thinking about an estate plan is when they start to have family members that depend on them financially – typically, a spouse or a child. Let’s take, for example, a young married couple with young children. The couple may think they need a will, but they might […]

Call to Action: Review Your Estate Plan in Light of the SECURE Act

Posted on January 7, 2020 by

The federal appropriations bill enacted into law on December 20, 2019 changed federal law in ways that may affect your retirement assets, including 401(k) plans and IRAs.  Those changes, often referred to as the “SECURE Act,” may affect you during your lifetime and also the way those retirement assets may be distributed to your beneficiaries […]

Upcoming Travel Plans? How to Temporarily Delegate Parental Authority

Posted on December 19, 2019 by

Picture this: you are lying on the beach in sunny Aruba, thinking about your best friend, Kristin, who valiantly volunteered to watch your three children while you and your spouse got away from the Wisconsin winter for the first time in ages – when all of a sudden you see a hotel staff member racing […]

My spouse is on Medicaid, now what?

Posted on November 14, 2019 by

It is common for a client whose spouse is receiving Medicaid to lack adequate estate planning to protect those Medicaid benefits in the event the client dies before their spouse. Yet, after all of the time and energy spent to qualify for Medicaid, it would be awful to see those benefits lost simply because proper […]

Create Your Digital Estate Plan

Posted on October 9, 2019 by

It seems like our world becomes more digital each day.  We can manage almost every aspect of our lives online.  But, unless you have updated your estate plan in the last few years, chances are good that your estate planning documents do not address what will happen to your electronic documents, e-mails, text messages, blogs, […]

My Parents Want to Leave My Son With Special Needs an Inheritance…Will He Lose His Benefits?

Posted on August 28, 2019 by

Leaving an inheritance to a loved one with special needs who is or will be receiving government benefits (SSI, medical assistance, long term care services) is tricky and can have unintended negative consequences if not done carefully. Well-meaning gifts may result in the loved one (who I will refer to as the “Special Needs Beneficiary”) […]

Long-Term Care Insurance – Is it an Option for You?

Posted on July 17, 2019 by

As our aging population grows so does the cost of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and in-home care services.  Contrary to popular belief, Medicare will only cover certain short-term stays and typically will not cover non-rehabilitative long-term care.  This leaves many elderly and disabled individuals with few options for covering costs.  Often, at first, family […]

Is My IRA Safe From the Nursing Home?

Posted on June 11, 2019 by

After working and saving, clients are concerned that unexpected costs will become unplanned for drains on their Retirement Accounts (e.g, 401(k), IRA, Roth IRA, 403(b), etc.). As the need to pay for nursing home care nears, those concerns grow and questions begin to be asked about whether retirement accounts are safe from the nursing home. […]

Who Gets Your Property if You Die Without a Will?

Posted on May 16, 2019 by

Some clients decide to hire an attorney to prepare their estate planning documents because they do not like the default laws in Wisconsin about who gets their property if they die without a will.  In Wisconsin, if you die without a will, or your will doesn’t give all of your property away, your property will […]

Myth Busters: Dispelling 5 Myths About Medicaid’s Long-Term Care Coverage

Posted on March 12, 2019 by

Did you know that Medicaid is the largest source of funding for nursing home care?  Medicaid, often called Medical Assistance or Title 19, has many rules that are confusing, and thus a mystery to many people.  Even more of a mystery surrounds the idea that you can protect your assets and still be eligible for […]

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