Our litigation team has extensive experience representing individuals, organizations, and fiduciaries on a wide range of trusts and estates disputes. From will contests, construction of wills, elective share payments and contested accountings to the performance of fiduciary duties, including allegations of undue influence, self-dealing, mismanagement, and fraud, our attorneys vigorously pursue our clients’ interests and strategically position our cases for the best possible outcome, through alternative dispute resolution or litigation when necessary.
- In what is believed to be one of the largest estate litigations in New Jersey, Pashman Stein together with co-counsel successfully defended the trustee of a trust against allegations that the trustee exerted undue influence over his father, who established the trust, causing his father to make certain lifetime transfers of business interests, alter his trust, and reduce plaintiff's share of the estate by upwards of $500 million. Following a highly publicized trial that lasted 85 days and included more than 50 witnesses, Superior Court Judge Estela M. De la Cruz issued a 119-page opinion rejecting plaintiff’s claims and ruling in favor of the trustee. The court found that even though the father suffered from a debilitating form of Parkinson’s disease that affected his speech and movement, he was fully competent to choose his heirs.
- In a probate dispute related to family businesses holding substantial real estate interests in New Jersey and New York, obtained dismissal of all claims for alleged misappropriation of assets against our client, one of two beneficiaries of the estate, and appointment of a fiduciary to marshal and sell various disputed assets of the estate.
- Defended a trustee of allegations of self-dealing and fraud along with vigorous and extensive efforts to remove her from that role. Obtained a dismissal of all claims following a nine day trial and then successfully defended an appeal of the dismissal.
- Representing a widow who was omitted from her spouse’s will because they met and were marred after the will’s creation. Successfully applied the omitted spouse statue to entitle the widow to an intestate share of the decedent’s estate despite the recognized validity of the will that omitted her. As a result, our client was permitted to retain her marital home, despite that home being a part of decedent’s estate that was devised to other beneficiaries.
- Represented life partner of decedent on issue of whether it was the decedent's probable intent to devise real property to his life partner free of mortgage debt although the issue was not addressed in decedent's will. The case was decided against the life partner at trial and on appeal. In a published opinion, the New Jersey Supreme Court granted certification and held that the decedent's probable intent was to transfer the property to the life partner free of debt and thus estate was required to pay off significant mortgage amount.
- Successfully defended a trustee in a suit claiming breaches of fiduciary duties related to the management of several family trusts holding substantial closely held real estate asset interests resulting in a settlement of all claims, reformation of numerous trusts, and the removal of the disgruntled beneficiary from the trusts/family businesses.
- Successfully defended a widow against other beneficiaries in a dispute over decedent’s pharmacy business and ownership of the commercial building in which it operates, including the successful negotiation of the sale of the building and business.
- Obtained a highly favorable settlement of ligation involving a gift trust consisting of several million dollars following applications for emergent relief and an interlocutory appeal to compel the arbitration. Guided our client towards a resolution that included a full distribution of trust proceeds and the equally favorable settlement of a related 5-year arbitration involving real estate holdings worth more than $22 million.
- Represented eight siblings in litigation to set aside a will worth several million dollars based on a distant relative and caregiver’s undue influence. Established numerous acts of self-dealing and the misappropriation of funds following a forensic analysis of extensive financial records. Also established likely undue influence following extensive discovery including the deposition of the attorney scrivener of the will. Achieved a favorable settlement on the very eve of trial resulting in a significant augmentation of their distributions as will beneficiaries.