Trust, Estate & Probate Litigation

Providing Answers, Not Just Analysis  

When facing a complex dispute over a trust or estate, you want Lurie, Zepeda, Schmalz, Hogan & Martin’s experienced litigators at the helm.  The genesis of our Trust, Estate & Probate Litigation practice was demand from trust and estate planning attorneys.  They knew our firm for our successful business litigation practice and wanted us to apply our problem-solving skills to their clients’ complex trust administration disputes, will contests and conservatorship issues.

Since those early referrals, we have resolved hundreds of matters, large and small.  We apply our skills as litigators to quickly identify the facts and establish a strategy.  We know how to get evidence admitted and, since we are frequently in probate court, the mediators and judges know us.  Along the way, our kind bedside manner helps reduce your stress as we zealously represent your best interests in the following areas:

In trust administration litigation between two siblings/co-trustees, successfully represented client/co-trustee in his claim that his co-trustee/sister had unduly influenced their surviving parent to include her as a joint account holder on all bank accounts and subsequently looted the accounts before the death of their parent/trustee.  The Court found that respondent/co-trustee had wrongfully taken $253,930, entering an order holding the respondent liable for twice the value of the property wrongfully taken in bad faith and awarding our client his full attorney’s fees.  

When a will contest was not thoroughly resolved after a bench trial, replaced former counsel in representing respondent to determine whether assets owned by client and his deceased wife were separate or community property.  After an evidentiary hearing, the court confirmed in client’s favor, that the property was separate and ordered that the estate was not entitled to any reimbursement.

Settled a will contest favorably for beneficiary after the estate’s executor claimed client had procured the beneficiary designation by fraud.  Decedent had designated our client as a pay-on-death beneficiary of an account holding $250,000.  Settled favorably for client in mediation.

After the death of a wealthy man, successfully represented his adult children from his first marriage against his second wife-trustee regarding the interpretation of the deceased’s trust. In trial in Riverside Superior Court, Palm Springs Courthouse, the court affirmed our clients’ interpretation of the trust that trustee had not distributed assets as required after her husband’s death. Additionally, the Court disallowed deductions from distributions of over $700,000 in trustee’s personal expenses from trust. Finally, the Court substantially adopted our position on the valuation of a key asset held in trust.

Obtained a temporary conservatorship over a high net worth individual suffering from dementia to prevent him from continuing to give substantial gifts of real and personal property to his predatory caregiver, and from marrying her as planned. Clear and convincing evidence standard for appointment of a conservator and Probate Code specifically provide that a conservatee presumably retains the right to marry. Thus, we successfully pursued special orders limiting the conservatee’s rights beyond those permitted by the Probate Code. Case pending in Riverside Superior Court, Indio.