Anyone can find themselves in a trusts and estates dispute. Everyone owns stuff. Everyone dies. Anyone can be among the people to whom a decedent wished to leave their stuff. When problems arise in transferring a deceased or incapacitated person’s assets, a trusts and estates litigator can help.

Parnall Trust and Estate Law represents clients in all aspects of trust and estate litigation, as well as in related areas such as elder abuse (e.g. financial elder abuse or elder abuse restraining orders) and real estate (e.g. actions to partition real property).

The general nature of trust and estate disputes is simple: a problem arises with the transfer of assets when a person dies or loses capacity. But the variations on this theme are virtually limitless. They can also be exceedingly complex. Some examples are as follows:

Will or trust contests

This type of dispute occurs when a person claims that the decedent’s will or other testamentary instrument is invalid.  The complaining person may allege that the instrument was forged; the decedent did not know what they were signing; someone else unduly influenced the decedent to sign the instrument; etc. The parties need a court to rule whether the instrument is valid or not.

Interpretation actions

Here, a provision in a document is vague, and would result in assets being distributed to different people based on how the provision is read. The parties need the court to rule on how to interpret the provision.

Fiduciary disputes

A fiduciary is the person in charge of gathering the decedent’s assets and distributing them to the intended recipients. Fiduciaries have a duty to work for the benefit of other people, not for themselves. Disputes often arise when a fiduciary is not doing their job; is not communicating with the beneficiaries; has not properly accounted for the assets; is taking the decedent’s assets for themselves, etc.

Financial Elder Abuse

These cases arise when a person takes an elder’s money or other assets when the elder is alive.

Elder Abuse Restraining Orders

These cases arise when a person, even a relative, harasses an elder and must be kept away. The harassment need not be physical.

Partition actions

Real property is often owned by more than one person. Sometimes one owner wants to sell the property, but another owner refuses. The owner who wishes to sell the property can request the court to order the sale.

Trust and estate litigation can have “good guys” or “bad guys” in any role. For example, a trust beneficiary may accuse a trustee of taking trust assets. If true, the trustee might be the bad actor. If false, the beneficiary might be the bad actor.

Parnall Trust and Estate Law represents clients on any side of a trust and estate matter. We advocate for and protect the interests of beneficiaries. We also represent fiduciaries, be they executors, administrators, trustees, conservators, or something else—i.e. we will not only advise our fiduciary clients how to properly do their job, but we will also defend them against allegations that they have breached their fiduciary duties.

Trust and estate litigation is primarily rooted in disputes over money. However, family or interpersonal relationships are also a significant aspect of these conflicts. Sometimes those relationships are worth preserving. Sometimes they are not. The attorneys at Parnall Trust and Estate Law are sensitive to the difference. We will keep sight of your goals—whether financial or not—throughout your matter.

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Dave Parnall is a seasoned trusts and estates attorney who focuses on litigation, administration, and mediation. He fights hard for his clients, but also emphasizes alternative dispute resolution when appropriate. Mr. Parnall has taken numerous cases through trial and has substantial appellate experience.