Pierce Atwood has an extensive history successfully representing clients in all types of probate litigation matters in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Working with individuals, families, closely held businesses, and nonprofit organizations, our attorneys provide professional, steadfast representation in what can be some of the most complex and emotionally charged situations our clients entrust to us.
With sensitivity and discretion, Pierce Atwood attorneys are prepared to advocate for our clients’ interests in a range of probate and trust litigation matters, including:
- Will contests, including claims of undue influence and incapacity
- Contested accounts
- Appointment and removal of fiduciaries
- Breaches of fiduciary duty
- Creditors’ claims against estates
- Disputes over accountings
- Disputes over interpretation of Trusts
- Guardianships, conservatorships, and adoptions
- Partitions of real estate
- Petitions for Instructions/Declaratory Judgment Actions
- Trust interpretation and administration
- Trust reformation
We regularly represent individual and institutional fiduciaries, including trustees, personal representatives, administrators, and guardians, as well as individual and charitable beneficiaries.
While we are always prepared to take a matter through to trial, we recognize that probate related disputes can be emotionally charged and involve significant privacy issues and concerns. We make it a priority to counsel our clients with sensitivity about the risks, costs and benefits of litigation, and offer strategic alternatives at the outset of each matter. When a client chooses to pursue litigation, we regularly review the potential advantages and disadvantages of settlement and/or alternative dispute resolution at appropriate times during the course of the litigation.
- Trial counsel to surviving children, who were sole beneficiaries under father’s will. The father was domiciled in Maine at the time of his death in Florida, and had real estate and financial assets in Maine and Florida. Five years before father’s death, he married a woman in Florida, after entering into pre-nuptial agreement providing that all of his assets would pass to his surviving children. As father aged and approached death, the stepmother engineered transfers of father’s property to herself, to deprive surviving children of assets. Asserted claims on behalf of surviving children in federal court, Maine Superior Court, and Maine Probate Court, simultaneously, resulting in favorable settlement.
- Trial counsel to plaintiffs, one of whom was personal representative of estate and all of whom were beneficiaries of testamentary trust. The plaintiffs asserted claims against trustee for breaches of fiduciary duty and breaches of trust, in connection with his administration of trust in contravention of trust instrument. After favorable orders obtained following trial before Maine Probate Court, matter resolved in favorable settlement.
- Trial counsel to charitable organization in a dispute over significant testamentary bequest and ambiguity regarding the identity of charitable organization the decedent intended to benefit, which resulted in very favorable settlement in favor of charitable organization.
- Lead trial counsel to beneficiary of trust in connection with enforcing rights to receive reporting relating to trust and to asserting claims against trustee for breaches of fiduciary duty.
- Trial counsel to institutional trustee, defending against claims of conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, unjust enrichment, and punitive damages brought by beneficiaries of testamentary trusts.
- Lead counsel to remainder beneficiaries of marital trust who were children of decedent, and successfully sought early termination of trust before death of stepmother-trustee, prior to litigation.