Resolving Complex Disputes Over Wills, Trusts And Estates
A death in the family triggers more than grief, especially when the deceased left a substantial estate. Greed rears its head. Family ties dissolve. People channel every perceived slight from the past 30 years in a volcano of anger.
I am attorney Clay Taylor. I’ve been litigating probate and trust disputes in Minnesota for more than 20 years, including some of the most legally tangled cases and bitter family feuds. I am not here to fan those flames or drag things out. I have a talent for getting to the crux of the conflict and helping the parties find a practical way forward. I have also served in the role of personal representative (executor), so I can empathize with clients who are attacked from all sides while doing a thankless job.
Referrals and inquiries welcome
I regularly get cases from a handful of probate and estate planning lawyers who do not handle litigation. I will field calls from anyone – heirs, personal representatives, trustees – who is mired in an estate dispute or concerned about shenanigans with an expected inheritance. Reach out at 612-355-8793.
Decades Of Experience With Probate And Estate Litigation
The nature of the assets and the family dynamics make every case unique. I am well-versed in Minnesota law on all facets of wills, trusts and probate, and here is just a sample of the diverse matters I have addressed over the years:
- Contested wills (undue influence or testamentary capacity)
- Trust litigation (lawsuits by beneficiaries or excluded heirs)
- Conservatorship disputes
- Breach of fiduciary duty by executors or trustees
- Embezzlement via power of attorney
- Misappropriation of assets and heirlooms
- Real estate joint tenancy disputes and partition actions
- Constructive trusts (assets frozen or set aside by a court to correct a wrong)
- Remedies for improper transfers or gifting of assets
- Trusts that were never properly funded
Unwinding a trust is always complicated. The testator’s intentions are not always clear. If the will is invalidated or the person didn’t leave a will, a whole different set of laws applies. These legal entanglements are compounded by petty jealousies and ulterior motives. I have seen grown men cry over the stone-cold actions of their siblings.
Untangling The Knots … And Bracing For Battle
So what is my role? I help people decide when and whether to use the civil justice system. Probate lawsuits are very expensive and very messy, with no guarantee of success. Depending on the facts of the case, I might advise you to walk away or stand your ground. Usually, there is some middle ground where reasonable people can come to an out-of-court resolution. It may take time, compromise and swallowing of pride, but at least you will have a say in the outcome.
If we do pursue legal action, you have the benefit of my 30 years of experience as a litigator, including countless jury trials, arbitrations and settlement conferences. I don’t go to trial unless I reasonably expect to win.
Are You The Executor Or Trustee? I’ve Been In Your Shoes.
On three occasions, I have myself served as the personal representative of a loved one’s estate. In one case, the deceased had all his ducks in a row, but it was a large estate with complex holdings, so it still consumed months of my life. In another case, the estate was more modest, but the deceased left a disorganized mess that caused me all sorts of headaches.
If estate and trust administration is difficult even for a probate lawyer like me, I understand that it must be all the more frustrating and exhausting for you. On top of your burdens, impatient family members are hounding you or second-guessing your moves, or even accusing you of self-dealing or playing favorites. I have defended many personal representatives and trust administrators who were sued for breach of fiduciary duty or who faced proceedings in probate court to be removed as executor/trustee.
I Take The Tough Cases
I have prevailed in multimillion-dollar probate lawsuits. I have recovered money for clients whose inheritance was drained to zero. While I don’t pretend to heal family wounds, I’m pretty good at brokering a truce that allows all involved to move past this.