Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C.’s Trust, Estate & Fiduciary Litigation Team attorneys represent individuals, financial institutions, and nonprofit organizations in disputes arising from the administration of estates and trusts and the validity and interpretation of wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents. Our team also represents individual and corporate fiduciaries in controversies relating to a fiduciary’s unique duties and responsibilities. We help our clients develop strategies to resolve such disputes in probate and non-probate contexts, in state and federal court, through negotiated settlement, mediation, and, when necessary, through trial.
We represent clients in the following areas:
- Will and Trust Contests. We have represented both proponents and contestants in proceedings involving challenges to the validity of wills, trusts, beneficiary designations, or lifetime transfers of property. Such proceedings often involve vigorously contested disputes among heirs, beneficiaries, and estranged family members concerning lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, or other wrongful conduct involving the right to inherit property.
- Construction and Reformation Proceedings. We have represented individuals, charitable organizations, and corporate fiduciaries in proceedings relating to the interpretation, construction, or reformation of estate planning instruments with the goal of protecting our clients’ rights and achieving desired results.
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claims. We have represented personal representatives, trustees, and other fiduciaries whose actions have been challenged. These disputes may include a variety of complex issues involving the fiduciary’s duty of loyalty, duty to avoid conflicts of interest, duty of impartiality, duty to account, duty to prudently invest assets, and the general duty to exercise reasonable care. We also have represented beneficiaries who are concerned about a fiduciary’s conduct in administering an estate or trust.
- Fiduciary Removal Proceedings. We have represented trustees, personal representatives, and other fiduciaries facing challenges with regard to their appointment or removal. We also have represented beneficiaries seeking the removal of a fiduciary on various grounds.
- Identification and Recovery of Trust and Estate Assets. We have assisted our clients in proceedings to identify, value, and recover trust and estate assets. We also have represented beneficiaries and fiduciaries to recover assets that were wrongfully taken from a decedent during his or her lifetime, including claims for tortious interference with inheritance.
- Marital Property Rights. Because Wisconsin is a marital (community) property state, the administration of estates and trusts can present unique issues for fiduciaries, beneficiaries, and surviving spouses. We have represented clients in asserting or defending claims based on rights arising under Wisconsin’s marital property law.
- Creditors’ and Debtors’ Rights in Estate and Trust Proceedings. We have represented clients in making claims as a creditor of an estate or trust. We also have experience objecting to the claims of creditors on behalf of the fiduciary of an estate or trust. Tax Disputes Concerning Estates and Trusts. We have represented both beneficiaries and fiduciaries with respect to some of the unique tax issues that may arise in the context of administering estates or trusts.
The team is multi-disciplinary so that we bring together the substantive experience of our attorneys in the areas of Trusts & Estates and Litigation. We understand that trust, estate, and fiduciary duty disputes present complex legal challenges, as well as unique emotional challenges for our clients, and we are keenly aware that we are acting not only as zealous advocates but also as thoughtful counselors in sometimes divisive situations.