Trust & Estate Litigation

Estate Litigation encompasses any and all matters that would be heard in the Orphans’ Court division in the Court of Common Pleas. These types of disputes involve guardianships, will contests, trust terminations, estate tax appeals, accountings, and other litigation involving decedents’ estates.

Our attorneys who practice in this area represent executors, beneficiaries, banks, family business partnerships, trust companies and non-profit organizations. Not only does the area of estate litigation involve decedents’ estates and trusts, but also matters involving financial disputes concerning minor’s estates. The attorneys often interpret wills, trust documents and non-profit corporate articles of incorporation.

The estate litigation department often, and with increasing frequency, refers matters to private alternative dispute resolution. In matters involving family disputes, it is often desirable for the families to resolve their differences in a non-courtroom setting. However, in matters such as surcharge actions or Petitions to Remove Executors, our attorneys are well versed in the special Orphans’ Court rules established for disputes in the Court of Common Pleas of Pennsylvania.

There is also an increase in fiduciary liability cases. These are matters that often deal with self-dealing and fraud issues when a Power of Attorney, Trustee or Executor/Administrator of an estate is defending or prosecuting actions of wrongful taking from the entities that they have been charged to financially oversee. These matters typically involve accountings, surcharge actions and actions to assess liability and damages.

Representative Cases

  • Successfully filed a Petition with the Orphans’ Court to modify a Trust so that it could be terminated and the proceeds of the Trust were distributed to adult children, when the purpose of the Trust was no longer being met. That purpose of the Trust was to protect the interests of any unborn children at the death of the Settlor. Since there were no such children, the Trust needed to be terminated.
  • Helped a family deal with an incapacitated elder parent by finding a Guardianship protective service agency and a financial institution to act as Guardians of the person and of the estate, respectively. The agency Guardian of the person managed the nursing and activities of daily living needs of the elderly parent, while the financial institution invested and managed the funds.
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue denied a deduction on an estate tax return based on the valuation of a minority shareholder issue. The court upheld a Petition filed by our office challenging the denial of the deduction.
  • A non-profit corporation decided to dissolve and distribute its assets.  A Petition was filed by our office and was successful in obtaining court approval of the schedule of distribution.
  • It was alleged that a Will was forged. Our office filed a Petition challenging said Will and it was established, through an expert, that the signature of the Decedent was traced. The matter successfully settled out of court.
  • An Executor was taking money from an estate. Our office brought an action on behalf of the beneficiaries. The Executor was surcharged and ordered not only to put back the amount that he had taken from the estate, but also reimburse the estate for the cost of the fees that were incurred.

If you would like to schedule a consultation, please call the firm at 610.436.0100 or submit the contact request form.