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Tax

Dean Mead’s Tax Department handles tax planning issues for businesses and individuals.  The attorneys in our department have extensive experience in a full range of…

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Government Relations & Lobbying

The Dean Mead Government Relations & Lobbying practice is built on three principles: Deep knowledge of how laws, regulations and policy can effect business outcomes;…

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Practice Area

Trust and Estate Litigation

Aggressive Representation in Controversies Involving Wills, Trusts, and Estates

Losing a loved one, whether a spouse, parent, grandparent, or other family member, is never easy. It becomes even more difficult and complicated when disputes relating to wills or trusts arise in the aftermath. At Dean Mead, we provide a full range of services focusing on various trust and estate disputes involving personal representatives, trustees, beneficiaries, heirs, conservators, guardians, fiduciaries, charities, and institutional trust companies. Our practice provides sophisticated advice and advocacy whenever controversies surface concerning trusts and estates, whether relating to the documents themselves, their subsequent administration, or otherwise

Disputes come in various forms; however, many stem from challenges concerning lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, tortious interference with an expectancy, breach of fiduciary duty, accounting, and demands for reformation or interpretation of the will or trust. Our experienced team includes litigators with extensive experience, supported by one of the finest and most sophisticated trust and estate planning departments in the entire State of Florida.

Our Trust and Estate Litigation Services Include:

  • Will Contests
  • Trust Contests
  • Trust and Will Construction
  • Trust Reformation
  • Accounting Actions
  • Fiduciary Actions
  • Fiduciary Misconduct
  • Fiduciary Removal
  • Surcharge Actions
  • Probate Objections
  • Probate Adversary Proceedings
  • Tax Disputes
  • Guardianship

Experience:

  • Represented the beneficiary of an irrevocable trust where the trustee wrongfully conveyed all the assets of the trust to a family member in an attempt to circumvent the beneficiary.
  • Represented the personal representative of an oil tycoon’s estate whose adopted sister filed a petition for revocation of probate of a will and codicil. The petition was filed on the grounds of undue influence and lack of testamentary capacity, primarily arguing that the family took action to disparage and isolate her from her mother. However, she was omitted as an heir to the family fortune through at least 11 estate planning documents executed by the decedent between 1998-2006, and her claims ultimately failed.
  • Served as counsel for three beneficiaries of an estate who objected to a proposed settlement agreement by the trustee. The decedent’s brother manipulated the trustee into believing that the decedent had orally promised the brother a one-half ownership interest in a valuable family business before he died, despite that the governing documents did not allow for such a purported transfer. The beneficiaries rejected the brother’s alleged claim and the trustee’s attempt to settle it. They called an evidentiary hearing, where the judge heard testimony from multiple witnesses and agreed that under the circumstances, the proposed settlement was not in the best interest of the beneficiaries.
  • Obtained a favorable result representing a decedent’s son from a first marriage in obtaining and defending his appointment as Successor Personal Representative for his father’s estate. The Successor Personal Representative had been sued in a declaratory judgment action brought by the Personal Representatives of the Estate of the second spouse. They sought a determination by the court that a Generation-Skipping Trust for the decedent’s first-marriage beneficiaries should be funded with only $1,000,000 and not $5,000,000 as deemed appropriate by the Successor Personal Representative. Our firm secured an order dismissing the claim filed by the Co-Personal Representatives of the second spouse’s estate.
  • Successfully represented the Personal Representative of a large estate in a will contest. Extensive discovery involved investigations in multiple states regarding the decedent’s businesses over many years and his uneven testamentary distributions to extended family members. One of the estate’s beneficiaries alleged that the decedent lacked testamentary capacity at the time he prepared his last will and trust. The documents were upheld in their entirety by the court.

“Experienced attorneys have a good number of strategies at their disposal when litigating trust and estate disputes,” said David P. Hathaway, Shareholder in the firm’s Trust and Estate Litigation Group. “At Dean Mead, we have a powerful estate planning department that provides invaluable assistance in determining which arguments may prevail in litigation.”

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