Hunton & Williams LLP's lawyers have broad and diverse experience in litigation involving private wealth and fiduciary disputes. Our lawyers have represented individuals, executors, trustees, partnerships, corporations, banks, trust companies, other financial institutions, charities and foundations, as plaintiffs, defendants and stakeholders, in a wide variety of litigation matters, including:

  • Will and trust contests
  • Litigation between executors or trustees and beneficiaries regarding fiduciary duty disputes
  • Suits to construe wills and trusts
  • Suits to modify trusts
  • Suits to substitute or remove trustees and executors
  • Proceedings to transfer trust administration to another state
  • Federal tax disputes
  • Litigation between financial institutions and their customers regarding fiduciary duty disputes

The lawyers in the our fiduciary litigation practice include members of the firm's private wealth advisors practice and the firm's litigation team. They have extensive trial experience in probate and other state trial courts and federal courts, as well as extensive appellate experience. These teams frequently are assisted by firm lawyers in other areas of law to the extent such detailed knowledge is required in the litigation. By bringing together experienced lawyers from each of these practice disciplines, Hunton & Williams is able to provide cost-effective representation that combines the substantive experience of our private wealth advisors practice with the trial skills of our litigation team.

Experience

    • Represented major financial institution in defending its performance as trustee in a case that resulted in the leading Texas Supreme Court case on the enforcement of exculpatory clauses in trust agreements.
    • Successfully defended major financial institution against beneficiary claims of breach of fiduciary duties and failure to diversify investments, claiming over $3,000,000 in damages, and obtained precedent-setting ruling upholding investment retention agreements as well as attorneys’ fee award.
    • Represented major financial institution and trusts in defending claims of undue influence and lack of testamentary capacity in multiweek trial of will contest and trust contest case, after obtaining summary judgment on tortious interference with inheritance rights claims before trial and favorably settling breach of fiduciary duty claims during trial.
    • Represented major financial institution in defending and obtaining dismissal of putative class action claims for breach of fiduciary duties brought by trust beneficiaries relating to the Enron failure, in which the plaintiffs sought to invalidate the ethical wall between the bank’s trust and investment banking operations.
    • Defending financial institution as executor against claim by estate beneficiaries that delay in liquidating equity positions violated a fiduciary duty and led to equity losses.
    • Representing beneficiaries in $20+ million trust dispute to replace individual trustee and recover damages.
    • Defended trust beneficiaries and their trusts against claims brought by beneficiaries' half-sisters seeking in excess of $100 million, arising out of deceased father's alleged contract to make a will, resulting in favorable settlement before trial.
    • Represented widow of prominent Texas businessman in defending against effort by children and former wife to invalidate will on grounds of lack of capacity and undue influence.
    • Represented two prominent Texas families in asserting and then successfully settling before trial claims for breach of fiduciary duty and mismanagement against clients' uncles, arising out of the administration of nine family trusts and the management of several substantial family-owned businesses, including a residential real estate development company and a home-building company.
    • Defended bank against claims seeking in excess of $10 million, alleging that the bank's trust officers had misappropriated trust funds and that bank had mismanaged trust assets and failed to carry out its administrative duties, and successfully settled case after obtaining partial summary judgment.
    • Tried to a successful jury verdict and judgment a case involving the failure to fund a trust and then mismanagement of trust assets.
    • Represented major financial institution serving as trustee of private trusts and charitable foundation against claims of family members seeking to secure assets otherwise payable to foundation.
    • Represented several charitable organizations in probate proceedings to protect their interests in testamentary bequests.
    • Represented family members in attacking the sufficiency of a holographic will and asserting claims for undue influence and lack of testamentary capacity, which led to a favorable settlement.
    • Defended sister, who alone took care of elderly mother and was the sole beneficiary under her Virginia will, against estranged sisters' challenge of mother’s will and claims for restitution and damages arising from undue influence, fraud and breach of fiduciary duty, resulting in a favorable settlement.
    • In numerous instances defended financial institutions against claims alleging breach of fiduciary duty.
    • Successfully defended the executor of a multimillion-dollar estate in a suit by an estate beneficiary, who alleged that the executor had improperly benefited himself in the distribution of the estate’s assets. The court dismissed all claims against the executor.
    • Successfully defended two individuals who served as executors of their father's multimillion-dollar estate and trustees under his testamentary trust, against claims by their stepmother over the estate's administration and their investment decisions for the trust. The lawsuit was successfully settled before trial with dismissal of all claims against the executors for no payment and agreed reformation of the trust in the future.
    • Successfully defended two individuals against claims by another family member that they caused elderly relative to retitle investment accounts in their favor through undue influence and that the relative lacked mental capacity to make the transfers. The court ruled in defendants' favor on all claims following trial.
    • Successfully represented decedent's children who challenged validity of will leaving entirety of multimillion-dollar estate to stepmother, on the grounds of undue influence. The case settled before trial with stepmother abandoning will and accepting statutory allotment.

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