Estate, Trust & Fiduciary Litigation

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.

Will or Trust: Which is Right for Me?

Posted on June 21, 2022 by

One of the most common questions asked by our clients is, “What is the difference between a will and a trust, and which is right for me?”  Last week, I provided a brief summary of the differences between these two common estate planning tools in a vlog.  You can view the vlog here.  In this […]

Resolving Business Disputes

Posted on May 10, 2022 by

In a perfect world, business owners could spend all of their time and money focusing on a singular task:  running their business.  Despite the best laid plans, however, at some point ancillary concerns will arise and require—at least to some extent—that a business divert its resources to address and correct an issue.  One area of […]

Marital Property Agreements: They’re Not Just for Kanye West and Kim Kardashian

Posted on February 23, 2022 by

Spring officially begins on March 20th – less than one month away.  In Wisconsin, that means wedding planning is in full swing.  One important item on many wedding planning to-do lists is a pre-nuptial agreement. We hear a lot about “pre-nups” in pop culture.  One of the most iconic pop culture references is in the […]

Online Document Forms Don’t Always Do the Job

Posted on February 22, 2022 by

Wendell knew he needed a financial power of attorney document in order to make sure he named someone to manage his finances and take care of his business if he was ever unable to do so on his own. However, Wendell was busy and didn’t want to take the time or spend the money to […]

Current Status of Federal Estate and Gift Tax Proposals

Posted on February 14, 2022 by

You likely are aware, from the news and our prior communications, that Congress currently is considering proposals that may have a significant impact on many estate plans. Although we still cannot be certain which, if any, of the proposed changes will become law, we want to provide you with an overview of their potential effect […]

Pros and Cons of Using the No-Contest Clause

Posted on December 13, 2021 by

Drafting an estate plan allows a person to put into writing their wishes for division of assets upon death.  Sometimes this means making a choice to give more to one child over the other, or to completely write out natural heirs of law.  An uncle whose nephew is like a son to him may bypass […]

What is the Gift Tax and How Does it Work?

Posted on November 22, 2021 by

Last week, I provided a brief overview of the gift tax in a vlog.  You can view the vlog here.  In this blog post, I’ll expand on basic gift tax concepts, just in time to make your holiday gifts. What is the gift tax?  Basically, the gift tax is a tax imposed on the gratuitous […]

Breaking News: Social Security Administration Announces 5.9% Benefit Increase for 2022

Posted on October 13, 2021 by

Today, the Social Security Administration announced in a press release that approximately seventy million Americans who receive Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will receive a cost-of-living adjustment (“COLA”) seeing an increase in their benefits of 5.9% in 2022. Sixty-four million Social Security beneficiaries will see their 5.9% COLA increase in January 2022. Eight […]

Protecting Your Inheritance

Posted on September 20, 2021 by

So you’ve received an inheritance and you’re married. The person who left you the inheritance probably intended for it to benefit you, not your spouse, if you get divorced. How do you protect the inheritance? Wisconsin law provides limited protection.  Under Wisconsin’s Marital Property Act, which governs the classification of assets during marriage and on […]

Estate Planning Considerations for Unmarried Individuals

Posted on September 1, 2021 by

Estate planning is a process that must be customized to fit each individual’s unique situation.  Each individual has their own priorities and issues to address.  The priorities and issues for an unmarried individual are often different than those for married couples.  Some of the common priorities and issues that arise in estate planning for unmarried […]

More Insights...