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.

The Early Bird RMD Doesn’t Get the Tax Relief Worm

Posted on April 6, 2020 by and

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”) into law on March 27, 2020.  Ruder Ware’s COVID-19 Focus Team provided a summary of the CARES Act in a previous blog post.  In that post, they mentioned that the CARES Act suspends most required […]

How Do You Create a Valid Will in Wisconsin?

Posted on March 31, 2020 by

In our blog post on estate planning in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Melissa Kampmann and I noted that it isn’t possible to create a valid will in Wisconsin without two witnesses, and it isn’t the best practice to create a will without two witnesses and a notary public.  But there’s more to creating […]

Estate Planning in the Time of COVID-19

Posted on March 20, 2020 by and

In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, many people are stocking up on food and other supplies to get them through prolonged periods of quarantine and government-ordered shutdowns.  Schools are closed and in some locations, businesses are also closing doors to visitors.  Yet people are concerned about planning for a potential incapacity or even […]

Federal Income Tax Filing Deadline Extended to July 15

Posted on March 20, 2020 by

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced via Twitter that the tax filing deadline for federal income tax returns has been extended by 90 days to July 15, 2020. Earlier this week, the federal government extended the time for individuals and businesses to pay their federal income tax by 90 days, but did not extend the filing […]

Isn’t an Online Financial Power of Attorney Form Good Enough?

Posted on February 27, 2020 by

When people ask me what they can do to make things easier for their loved ones if something happens to them, the first question I ask is if they have power of attorney documents in place. A good financial power of attorney (“POA”) is one of the most important estate planning documents you can have. […]

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, […]

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