Estate & Trust Disputes

Disputes among family members regarding the validity or interpretation of Wills or the administration of estates and trusts are complicated. When a Will or trust is changed, the heirs’ and beneficiaries’ expectations may not be met. Challenges and disputes frequently arise when those changes were made under circumstances indicating impaired mental capacity perhaps due to dementia or other mental illness. Similarly, allegations of undue influence are triggered when a Will or trust is changed after entering into a new marriage or relationship.

Another common source of tension arises when the expectations of beneficiaries or heirs do not match the distributions from estate administrators and trustees. These disappointments give rise to allegations of mismanagement, theft, and favoritism.

It is generally an inherent fact that trust and estate disputes involve a defined amount of money either held in an estate or in a trust. Given the limited “pie” it is essential that the disputes be successfully litigated or resolved as efficiently as possible. Clients simply cannot afford (and should not tolerate) a “learning curve” for their counsel. Similarly, missteps and delays not only waste money, but also further alienate or exacerbate the strained relationships.

Manning Fulton is uniquely qualified to tackle estate and trust disputes. We have assembled a team of experienced litigators, tax lawyers (who are also CPAs), estate planning lawyers, and estate administration professionals. Our broad experience representing heirs, testators, trustees, and beneficiaries give us the ability to understand the issues from all sides.

Understanding the tax implications of potential solutions to estate disputes is also critical to helping our clients make well-informed decisions. We have one of the largest trust and estate administration practices in North Carolina. Our lawyers include two Fellows of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, a Fellow of the American College of Tax Counsel, and three Board Certified Specialists in Estate Planning and Probate Law. We have practiced extensively before the Internal Revenue Service, the North Carolina Department of Revenue and the United States Tax Court. We use our experience to work for favorable resolution of our clients’ estate tax controversies.

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