F+B has recently concluded a very contentious guardianship and trust litigation case for a client that extended more than three-and- a-half years.
In May 2014, F+B was retained to represent two siblings concerned that their sister was taking financial advantage of their uncle. The uncle never married or had any children of his own, and his nieces and nephew were his only living relatives. At issue, the uncle suffered a medical event which left him incapacitated and unable to make medical and financial decisions for himself. After being released from the hospital, the uncle executed a trust that left half of his $4.5 million estate to one niece while almost completely cutting out his nephew. F+B’s clients were concerned that the uncle was being influenced to make decisions that he was not competent to make and that their sister was taking money from the trust without authority to do so.
In September 2014, the parties all went to mediation and reached a full settlement of the case. Weeks later, the uncle and his niece, who was alleged to have taken inappropriate actions, notified the parties that they were refusing to honor the mediation agreement. Their refusal to honor the agreement resulted in more than 3 years of litigation to enforce the original settlement agreement. During those 3 years, the Court granted F+B’s request and ordered an independent medical exam of the uncle, which found that the uncle was incapable of making any financial decision for himself. Ultimately, the Court found in favor of F+B’s clients and confirmed the original 2014 Agreement and entered judgment requiring that the Agreement be honored.
By the time that the Court enforced the agreement, the niece who influenced the uncle to create the Trust had expended over $200,000 from the uncle’s Trust to pay her own personal attorneys’ fees. F+B filed suit against the niece alleging that she was breaching her fiduciary duty as trustee of the trust by paying her own personal debts out of the uncle’s trust. The Court entered a temporary restraining order against the niece restraining her from using any more of the uncle’s money to pay her personal attorneys’ fees. Without having the ability to pay her personal attorneys’ fees with her uncle’s money, the niece quickly agreed to return to mediation in early 2018. As a result of that mediation, the parties settled all of the claims pending in the case with a very favorable result for F+B’s clients. The Court has entered judgment enforcing the second agreement, and the parties have begun complying with the agreement, including the appointment of a permanent guardian for the 87 year-old uncle.
This case combined both guardianship litigation and trust litigation. F+B attorneys aggressively litigated these issues until our clients received a favorable resolution.