The Trusts and Estates Litigation Practice Group represents clients in a wide variety of trust and estate disputes, including will caveats, challenges to trust provisions, fiduciary duty litigation, and guardianship proceedings. Our attorneys offer a broad range of proficiency and have experience instituting and defending complex and novel proceedings before the clerk of court, juries, and the judges of both state and federal courts. Our clients range from trustees, executors, and administrators, to beneficiaries and potential heirs.
Because the Trusts and Estates Litigation Practice Group includes attorneys from both the Trusts and Estates and the Litigation Practice Groups of the Firm, it is uniquely qualified to offer a broad range of advice and representation in estate planning and the formation and creation of trusts as well as the administration of trusts and estates and the resolution of disputed trust and estate issues. The close working relationship between our trust and estate litigators and our trust and estate planners also allows us to meet our clients' litigation needs while affording our clients background and proficiency in all aspects of estate planning, estate administration, trust formation and administration, and related services.
Our attorneys understand the particularly sensitive nature of a dispute arising out of a trust or estate matter and exhibit the compassion, dedication, and understanding necessary to handle these delicate issues in a professional and personal manner. Ward and Smith, P.A. has a proven track record and has successfully handled many trust and estate disputes over the years.
Examples of only a few of the numerous trust and estate litigation matters our attorneys have handled include obtaining injunctive relief for an administrator whose ability to administer an estate was impeded by a wayward beneficiary; obtaining a trustee appointment for a client in a hotly contested trust dispute; obtaining a directed verdict in a will caveat case resulting in a declaration that our clients were the sole beneficiaries of the decedent's estate; and successfully petitioning the clerk of court to modify the terms of or to supervise the administration of various trust agreements. Additionally, we are well-versed in the negotiation of family settlement agreements that allow our clients to avoid the financial and emotional strain of a lengthy court battle, and we regularly assist clients in preparing for a potential will challenge prior to the client's death.
Our attorneys also bring to their work a range of complementary experience, including the following: four attorneys certified by the North Carolina State Bar as Board Certified Specialists in Estate Planning and Probate Law; judicial law clerk to the Honorable Malcolm J. Howard, U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina; authors of numerous manuscripts on estate planning and administration, including "Minimizing Estate and Gift Taxes While Transferring the Family Business," "Federal Gift Tax," "Practical Drafting and Planning Issues Involving the Estate Tax Marital Deduction," and "Estate Liquidity for the Owners of Closely Held Businesses"; a member of the Board of Trustees for the North Carolina Community Foundation; an officer of the Davidson College Alumni Association; a member of the Davidson College Board of Trustees; a speaker for the North Carolina Bar Foundation; a member of the Eastern North Carolina Inn of Court; a board member of the ECU Medical Foundation, Inc.; and a Past President of the East Carolina Estate Planning Council.
Our attorneys belong to many organizations relating to their practice areas and are members of numerous professional organizations such as the New Hanover County Estate Planning Council; North Carolina Bar Association Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section; American Bar Association Probate and Trust Law Section; American Bar Association Litigation Section; American Bar Association Committee on Real Estate and Probate Litigation; and the East Carolina Estate Planning Council.