Practice Contacts

Trusts & Estates

Civil Litigation

Zuckerman Spaeder LLP has handled multimillion-dollar trust and estate litigation in jurisdictions across the country. While we draw on our deep trial and litigation experience, these cases also require particular finesse given the delicate family dynamics often at play. We have provided aggressive representation for clients involved in estate disputes without losing sight of the relevant family relationships and the fact that achieving peace may ultimately produce a better financial result for the client. We have won large judgments for clients at trial or, when the situation demands, negotiated substantial and complex, multi-party settlements to avoid depleting the estate with the costs of extended litigation. We have also worked closely with tax practitioners, trust and estate lawyers, accountants, and financial advisers to achieve the best results for clients in both litigation and in settlement.

Experience Highlights

Zuckerman Spaeder’s extensive experience in a wide variety of litigation is invaluable when we have a client who is facing difficult and often emotional litigation over a challenged estate or trust. We have represented an adult son who was disinherited in favor of his father’s new girlfriend and an adult daughter who received the entirety of her mother’s estate and faced a challenge to the will by her sister who had received nothing. In both cases, as in many estate disputes, one party argued that the deceased was incompetent at the time the will was created and was manipulated by the person or persons named as the beneficiary of the will. The incompetence of the deceased generally must be resolved through the use of expert medical witnesses, and we are experienced at both choosing and working with qualified experts.

Further, our experience in this subject matter is invaluable in dealing with the inevitable conflicts of interest that arise. We know how to manage cases, for example, in which the trustee named in the will is also married to the beneficiary of the will or in which the attorney who drafted the will is now a key witness on the issue of the deceased’s incompetence. Similarly, we can anticipate the complex questions that develop when there are minor children or unborn heirs whose interests may need to be represented separately at trial.