Probate Trust & Fiduciary
Our Probate, Trust & Fiduciary Litigation attorneys have extensive experience in handling will contests, trust and fiduciary litigation, and other matters involving contested issues in the administration of estates and trusts in the Texas courts, as well as in states outside of Texas. Teams consisting of our skilled trial lawyers and knowledgeable wealth planning attorneys have combined their talents to successfully represent executors, administrators, trustees, beneficiaries, and heirs in disputes stemming from wills, trusts and fiduciary appointments. The firm also has experience in all types of guardianship matters, from the representation of family members who are seeking guardianship to the participation in guardianship matters as guardians ad litem or attorneys ad litem.
Of course, the most cost-effective way to handle any dispute is to try to prevent it from arising. Consequently, and as a result of our experience in litigation, Jackson Walker attorneys are able to counsel fiduciaries in the discharge of their duties as well as provide estate and wealth management advice to individuals and entities designed to minimize the likelihood of litigation. However, when litigation does arise, we are prepared to handle it – whether it arises in a state probate court, a state district court, a federal court or any other forum.
- In re Andrew Prentiss Bee Colmena Trust, (Probate Court No. 2, Dallas County, Texas 2014). Represented resigning trustee in her application for approval of final account and judicial discharge as trustee and evidentiary hearing before the Court on same.
- Probate Proceeding in Dallas County Probate Court No. 2 (2013). Represented independent executrix in will contest where decedent’s children claimed lack of capacity. Subsequent to the exchange of discovery, the case settled.
- Probate and Guardianship Proceedings in Dallas County Probate Courts (2011). Represented two beneficiary children of the deceased and alleged incapacitated person in dispute with opposing beneficiary children regarding oil and gas assets. Subsequent to multiple contested hearings on various matters, written discovery exchange, and depositions, the case reached settlement.
- In the Estate of Thomas Meade Harwell, deceased (Probate Court No. 3, Dallas County, Texas 2011). Represented Columbia University in probate matter involving the interpretation of particular provisions of holographic will making numerous devises to charitable and educational organizations. Negotiated a favorable settlement on behalf of Columbia.
- In re Estate of Jasper Afton Burke, Jr.; Pamela B. Burke v. Kathryn B. Zack and Susan Wills Burke (County Court at Law No. 2, Kaufman County, Texas 2011). Represented independent executrix in oil and gas ownership rights dispute against co-owners of mineral interests. The case settled prior to trial.
- In re Estate of Joseph Lee Godat, Jr., deceased (Probate Court of Dallas County, Texas 2007). Served as trial counsel for independent executrix in a will contest defending against claims of undue influence and fraud in the inducement brought by children of the decedent. After extensive discovery and filing aggressive traditional and no-evidence summary judgment briefing on behalf of the independent executrix, the case reached a favorable settlement.
- In the Matter of the Estate of Kirsten Janay Smith, Deceased; PB-2000-59; State of New Mexico, County of Eddy, Fifth Judicial District in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Contested proceeding to determine personal representative of the estate. Client petitioner appointed as personal representative. Opposing attorney was Gerry Spence.
- In Re Estate of Edward D. Hayden, Sr., Deceased; 96-4952-P2B. Probate Court of Dallas County, Texas. Jackson Walker represented the children of the decedent in a dispute over claims to estate and trust property. After a seven-day trial, a jury verdict and judgment was entered in our clients’ favor with a constructive trust imposed on $3 million in assets for their benefit. Judgment was affirmed in part, remanded in part and reversed in part on appeal. The case then settled.
- First State Bank, Three Rivers, Texas v. Buckaloo, et al.; 7268-C; District Court of Live Oak County, Texas (George West, Texas). Contested proceeding between the surviving spouse of decedent and decedent’s daughter for the right to ownership of bank stock. The bank filed an interpleader action to determine the proper distribution. After a six-day jury trial, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of Jackson Walker’s client, the surviving spouse, finding a right to ownership of 76 percent of the stock at issue.
- Pierre Pelham, et al. v. Richard Boykin, et al.; Circuit Court of Mobile County, Alabama. This was a suit to partition testamentary trusts and divide trust property. Jackson Walker served as lead counsel for one of the partition trusts. After presentation of evidence, the case settled.
- B.R. Griffin, et al. v. Thomas D. Box, et al.; United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division. Jackson Walker represented defendants Tom Box and Don Box in a series of lawsuits in state district court, federal court and probate court in Dallas, Texas involving the sale of Box Brothers Holding Company and control of Box Energy to J.R. Simplot. The cases settled before trial.
- Jacquelyn Wynne, Administratrix of the Estate of T.L. Wynne, Jr. v. NCNB Texas National Bank; 87-3604-P(B); In the Probate Court of Dallas County, Texas. Jackson Walker defended NCNB and its trust department regarding management of assets and lender liability claims relating to the Estate of T.L. Wynne, Jr. Summary judgment was granted in favor of NCNB. After an appeal and before an opinion by the appellate court, the case and several companion cases settled.
- In re Estate of Joseph Lee Godat, Jr., Deceased; Probate Court of Dallas County, Texas 2007. Served as trial counsel for independent executrix in a will contest defending against claims of undue influence and fraud in the inducement brought by children of the decedent.
- In the Estate of Thomas Meade Harwell, Deceased; Probate Court No. 3, Dallas County, Texas 2011. Represented Columbia University in probate matter involving the interpretation of particular provisions of holographic will making numerous devises to charitable and educational organizations.
- In re Estate of Jasper Afton Burke, Jr.; Pamela B. Burke v. Kathryn B. Zack and Susan Wills Burke; County Court at Law No. 2, Kaufman County, Texas 2011. Represented independent executrix in oil and gas ownership rights dispute against co-owners of mineral interests.
- Currently representing independent executrix in will contest in Probate Court No. 2, Dallas County, Texas. Children of the decedent claimed lack of capacity. The case settled.
- Probate and Guardianship Proceedings in Dallas County Probate Courts (2011). Represented two beneficiary children of the deceased and alleged incapacitated person in dispute with opposing beneficiary children regarding oil and gas assets.
- In re the Estate of Joanne Vandenberg Hill: Pieter F.W. Cramerus, et al. v. InterFirst Bank Dallas, N.A., as executor of the Estate of Joanne Vandenberg Hill, et al.; Cause No. 182,128, Probate Court No. 2 of Harris County, Texas. Successfully represented the claimants in one of the largest will contest cases in Texas involving a lack of testamentary capacity. Through detailed interviews, discovery, research, and after a one-week trial, the case successfully settled for the full amount demanded by Jackson Walker’s clients.
- G. Dulany Lingo and Guy E. Brignon v. Comerica – Bank Texas, N.A. et al.; Cause No. 64-63584-P-(A), Probate Court No. 1 of Dallas County, Texas. Jackson Walker represented two individual trustees of several family trusts against a corporate trustee who was attempting to prevent the individual trustees from replacing the corporate trustee and move the trusts to another bank. The lawsuit was resolved on the eve of trial. Before it was resolved, Jackson Walker attorneys obtained summary judgment for their clients on their claim for breach of contract. In the order granting motion for summary judgment, the court also rejected the defendant’s motion for summary judgment on its counterclaim.
- In the Matter of Carol Chappell Henry, Deceased; Cause No. 04-1325-P(A), Probate Court of Dallas County, Texas. Counsel for intervenors as devisees and legatees of the Estate at issue, and remainder owners of a trust, in an action by surviving spouse to attempt to remove the Executor and Trustee. Case settled without the removal of the Executor and Trustee.
- In re Pinkie Bell Nolden; Tarrant County, Texas. Jackson Walker represented the probate bond surety, Allstate Insurance. A TRO and a temporary injunction were obtained against the administrator, on behalf of the surety, in an effort to secure the funds of the estate after the court agreed that it was likely that the administrator had burned down the house owned by the estate.
August 3, 2021
Jackson Walker congratulates the 20 attorneys recognized among “Austin’s Top Attorneys” for 2021. For recognition in the list, Austin attorneys must be nominated by their peers on the basis that they offer experienced counsel in one of 43 categories.
April 28, 2021
Jackson Walker congratulates the 23 attorneys recognized among D Magazine’s list of the “Best Lawyers in Dallas” for 2021.
April 17, 2020
Jackson Walker partner Scott Schepps walks through some of the tools available to help mitigate the damages and help reduce the tax burden on the estate.
January 10, 2019
Jackson Walker’s Dallas Office Welcomes Greta Cowart and Kal Grant to ERISA and Wealth Planning Groups
Jackson Walker is pleased to announce the addition of Greta Cowart and Kal Grant as partners in the Dallas office.
June 1, 2018
Jackson Walker partner Michelle Rosenblatt recently presented at the Civil Litigation Section CLE for the Austin Bar Association.
March 12, 2018
Keith Branyon Published in “Texas Bar Journal” on the Claims Process for Creditors in Independent Administrations
M. Keith Branyon was published in the March 2018 edition of the Texas Bar Journal. The article, “Claims Process – Options for Creditors in Independent Administrations,” endeavors to guide a creditor who is faced with the death of its debtor.
March 2, 2018
Our Fort Worth office has over 25 attorneys who offer significant experience in business law, healthcare, environmental law, labor and employment, litigation, and real estate law. Our attorneys are dedicated not only to the needs of their clients but also to the Fort Worth community.
September 6, 2017
Thomson Reuters has named 53 Jackson Walker attorneys to its 2017 ‘Texas Super Lawyers’ list. According to Thomson Reuters, the list recognizes a “credible, comprehensive and diverse” selection of “outstanding attorneys,” and serves as a resource for those in search of legal counsel.
Examples of the types of cases our probate, trust and fiduciary litigation attorneys have handled include:
- Litigation involving will contests
- Representation of trustees of inter vivos trusts, testamentary trusts, and court-created trusts
- Litigation involving the interpretation, modification and construction of trusts
- Representation of executors, administrators and other fiduciaries against claims of breach of fiduciary duty
- Representation of heirs and beneficiaries seeking assets of trusts and estates
- Litigation involving competing claims to assets of trusts from estates
- Litigation involving the actions of trustees, executors, and agents acting under powers of attorney