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Estate, Trust and Fiduciary Litigation

Practice Areas › Estate, Trust and Fiduciary Litigation

Estate, Trust and Will Conflicts:

Fiduciary litigation, arising out of conflicts between and among trustees, executors, beneficiaries, guardians, partners, agents (powers of attorney) and corporations has become increasingly common in the past few years in the San Antonio area.

Langley & Banack estate, trust and fiduciary litigators have the skills and expertise to handle most forms of estate and trust disputes. Langley & Banack also has substantial experience and expertise in litigation involving efforts by creditors to set aside transfers of property pursuant to the implementation of estate plans.

Fiduciary Relationships by Law:

The law defines certain fiduciary relationships very clearly. The following are common fiduciary relationships defined within law:

  • Employees towards their employers
  • Lawyers/Attorneys with their clients
  • Brokers with their customers
  • Agents with their principals
  • Trustees to beneficiaries of estates
  • Condominium Board Members or Officers
  • Construction Industry Fiduciaries
  • Corporate Officers and Directors
  • ERISA Fiduciaries
  • Guardians
  • Power of Attorney
  • Real Estate Brokers/Agents
  • Corporate and Non-Corporate Receivers
  • Business Partners (Reciprocal)
  • Joint Venturers (Reciprocal)
  • Spouses (Reciprocal)

Joyce W. Moore

Joyce W. Moore was named as one of the Top 5 “Go-To” attorneys in Texas by Texas Monthly magazine in 2002 in this field. She has been involved in some of the largest trust and estate cases in the State of Texas and is a frequent lecturer at advanced state and local Bar Association seminars relating to estate, trust and fiduciary litigation. She is consistently named a Best Lawyer in America by Woodward and White (2001-2016 and Lawyer of the Year for San Antonio in 2012 and 2016) and a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters (2003-2016) in the Estate and Trust Litigation category.

Chris Hodge

Chris Hodge has 10 years of experience handling complicated estate, trust and fiduciary litigation matters. In 2008 and 2009, Mr. Hodge was selected by his peers as a San Antonio Rising Star in SA Scene magazine. He was selected as a Best Lawyer in San Antonio in SA Scene in 2014 and 2015. In 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014, Mr. Hodge was named a Rising Star by Thomson Reuter’s Texas Super Lawyers in either Trust and Estate Litigation or General Civil Litigation.

Our Fiduciary Litigation Trial Experience Includes:

  • Defending estate plans
  • Pursuing claims by and against entities formed pursuant to estate planning
  • Will contests/Trust contests
  • Suits involving executors and heirs and guardians and wards
  • Suits involving trustees/beneficiaries
  • Suits by or between partners
  • Shareholder actions
  • Claims by or against brokers and other professional agents
  • Suits by or against agents under a power of attorney

 

What’s the difference between a Will and a Trust?

There are three main ways you can use to plan your estate:

  • A will
  • A revocable or living trust
  • An irrevocable trust

Wills

When does the will active?

At the time the decedent passes away.

What assets does the will cover?

A will says how your probate assets* (and probate assets only) will be given out, who will manage your property, who will settle your estate, and who will care for any minor children who were in your care when you passed.

Does a will require probate?

A will must pass through probate*, which may result in court fees.

When can you change a will?

You can update or cancel out your will at any time.

Who carries out a will?

An executor will carry out the terms of a will.

Revocable Trust

When is the revocable trust active?

A revocable trust is active once it is made.

What assets does the revocable trust cover?

A revocable trust covers only the assets that have been placed directly into it. It lays out your wishes for your care and your estate in the event that you become unable to care for yourself.

Does a revocable trust require probate?

A revocable trust gives you the privacy of avoiding probate*.

When can you change a revocable trust?

You can update or cancel a revocable trust at any time.

Who carries out a revocable trust?

A trustee will carry out the terms of a revocable trust.

Irrevocable Trust

When is the irrevocable trust active?

An irrevocable trust will become active at the time selected by the individual who has created it. This can be when it is made, then the person who has made it passes, etc.

What assets does the irrevocable trust cover?

An irrevocable trust covers only the parts of your estate that have been placed directly into it. It is often used to hold assets for young or incapacitated beneficiaries, to give you creditor protections, or to be used as a gift for beneficiaries.

Does a irrevocable trust require probate?

An irrevocable trust gives you the privacy of avoiding probate.

When can you change an irrevocable trust?

You can never change or cancel an irrevocable trust.

Who carries out an irrevocable trust?

A trustee will carry out the terms of an irrevocable trust.

*Probate is the process by which a court decides that a will is valid.

What Assets Are Considered Nonprobate?

A will does not control the disposition of “non-probate” assets. Non-probate assets include assets that pass according to the beneficiary designation or by right of survivorship. These assets generally pass outside the will to the persons named in the beneficiary designations.

Examples of Non-Probate Assets

  • life insurance policies
  • IRAs
  • employee benefit plans
  • Pensions and 401Ks
  • “pay on death” accounts

Similarly, property held by the decedent and another person as joint tenants with right of survivorship passes outside the will directly to the survivor. It is very important to periodically review which of your assets are “non-probate” assets and how they will pass at your death. These assets should be coordinated within your overall estate plan.

Procrastination is often the biggest estate planning mistake. A qualified professional can assist you in formulating an effective estate plan that can help manage your affairs during your lifetime, as well as make things easier for your loved ones after you pass away. After you have executed the appropriate documents, you should review your estate plan at least every three to five years, or upon the occurrence of major life events such as moving, getting married, divorced, or a birth or death in the family.

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