We focus on fiduciary litigation and counseling. We pursue, defend, and
provide advice on issues involving the standards of care applicable to
fiduciaries such as trustees, executors, guardians, charitable organizations,
banks, trust companies, partners, attorneys, and officers and directors
of corporations. Our fiduciary matters arise in:
Estate and Probate Litigation
Estate litigation includes disputes arising between executors and beneficiaries,
and conflicts among heirs and beneficiaries, related to estate administration
Estate litigation also includes bringing and/or defending estate-related
tortious interference with an inheritance and breach of contract claims
in state and federal court, and litigation involving life insurance proceeds,
joint bank accounts, payable on death accounts and similar non-probate assets.
Estate litigation also consists of actions to recover estate assets from
"Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate."
-- Ambrose Bierce
We represent both parties asserting and contesting the validity of a Will
in Orphans’ Court trials and in Register of Wills hearings.
Our cases have involved the principal grounds for a will contest in Pennsylvania:
- that a document lacks the necessary requisites of a “will,”
- undue influence, and
- lack of testamentary capacity.
“Say not you know another entirely till you have divided an inheritance
-- Johann Kaspar Lavater
We represent corporate and individual trustees, and income and remainder
beneficiaries, in cases involving trust interpretation, trust reformation,
propriety of trust investments, asset allocation, and self-dealing. Trust
disputes also can include questions as to the validity of the trust based
on allegations of forgery, fraud, undue influence and/or lack of testamentary
capacity. Trust litigation also consists of pursuit and defense of surcharge
actions and petitions to remove trustees.
“Those who trouble their households will inherit the wind …”
-- Proverbs 11:29
Fee and Commission Litigation
Fee and commission litigation includes questions about the amount and propriety
of fees charged to an estate or individual by an attorney for an estate
or trust, by an executor or by a trustee. It also involves attempts by
trustees to modify or break fee agreements. For example, we successfully
defended against a trustee's attempt to break a longstanding fee agreement
in a large charitable trust, The
W.W. Smith Trust.
“The matter of fees is important, far beyond the mere question of
bread and butter involved. Properly attended to, fuller justice is done
to both lawyer and client.”
-- Abraham Lincoln
Guardianship/ Incapacitated Person Proceedings
Our guardianship practice includes actions to protect incapacitated persons
and their assets through the appointment of a guardian of the estate and/or
person. Complex guardianship litigation often arises over the issues of
incapacity, the person who should be guardian, and guardians accused of
abusing their authority.
Charitable Institution and Non-profit Litigation
The Orphans’ Court has jurisdiction over charitable non-profit litigation,
and litigation arises when there are fundamental changes in a charitable
or not-for-profit entity, or the charitable purposes cannot be fulfilled (
cy pres and deviation proceedings).
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
-- Sir Winston Churchill
Our commercial or business litigation practice includes disputes between
directors and officers, shareholder litigation, and partnership conflicts.
Business litigation further includes breach of contract actions, unfair
competition claims, and disputes regarding covenants to not compete.
We also have tried real estate disputes, forgery and defalcation claims,
Pennsylvania’s Wage Payment Collection Law actions, and conflicts
arising from the sale and/or formation of businesses.
“Litigation is the pursuit of practical ends, not a game of chess.”
-- The Hon. Felix Frankfurter