Probate litigation is an unfortunate fact of contemporary life. Although it is the exception rather than the rule, the increasing complexity of wealth preservation strategies and unfulfilled expectations relating to a loved one’s estate plan or donative intentions have led to a corresponding increase in the frequency of disputed estate administration proceedings. South Carolina in general and Charleston in particular have become popular retirement destinations for high net worth individuals. The result has been marked growth in the number and scale of probate litigation matters. The attorneys of Rosen Hagood have established a reputation as the firm to whom clients turn when these matters arise.
Family dynamics often drive many fiduciary disputes. Relationships within families, particularly when substantial multigenerational wealth is involved, are often emotionally charged. When these factors are exacerbated by the passing of a family member, the result is frequently contention, and litigation.
The good news is that most disputes settle out of court. Most parties prefer amicable resolution to the expense, delay and unpredictability of actual in-court litigation. We do, too. Our goal, always, is to resolve fiduciary disputes privately through a collaborative approach. That being said, if litigation proves to be unavoidable, we will advocate fearlessly and aggressively on behalf of our clients.
We have represented clients in a diverse range of scenarios: claims of undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity, interference with inheritance and contract, unjust enrichment, breach of fiduciary obligations, self-dealing, and conflicts of interest against executors, agents and trustees. We have dealt with tax and other litigation, including closely held business disputes, family-owned business succession challenges, valuation disputes, and income and estate tax conflicts. With respect to trusts, we have handled matters concerning allegations of forgery, fraud, duress, undue influence, lack of capacity, and breach of fiduciary duty, as well as pursuit and defense of surcharge actions and petitions to remove trustees.
Again, if litigation is unavoidable, our attorneys are tough, smart and relentless. When circumstances require us to fight, we fight hard, and we fight to win. Success in adversarial proceedings is not the result of bravado, aggression or theatrics. It’s the result of exhaustive preparation, experience and a precise strategy that’s informed by that experience. Litigation usually is a series of hundreds of small events that occur over a period of time. The best strategy for you to prevail in the end is by prevailing in each of these steps along the way, one at a time. Our attorneys bring a patient, consistent and relentless determination to your case.
Our effectiveness as litigators is also the result of our long history in South Carolina, and Charleston, particularly in the probate courts where we have been appearing for decades. We have litigated many matters in these forums, and possess the local knowledge and experience needed to effectively and successfully shepherd a matter through the process, whether it be obtaining an emergency order of some kind or navigating through lengthy and complex litigation. We have a proven track record of successful appearances before the local probate bar and other local courts.
For attorneys, fiduciary disputes and litigation among family members require a unique combination of capabilities. By nature, these are sensitive, highly personal and emotionally loaded proceedings. They frequently demand not only legal or professional guidance, but also empathy and compassion on a personal level. We understand the difficult issues you face and can help you address them in a sensitive, impartial and principled manner. We deal every day with grieving executors, family members making unreasonable demands, and clients who sometimes simply need to vent. We are accustomed to managing expectations – helping clients think clearly, deal with their sometimes-overwhelming emotions, and arrive at the best resolution to a matter. All this must be done in situations involving large sums of money, and the interaction of a number of highly technical statutory, regulatory and legal provisions in an adversarial environment.
That being said, however, the application of some basic principles are what usually lead to a good result: patience. Thorough preparation. Expectation of the unexpected. An emphasis on the future and a respectful detachment from the events of the past. And ultimately, bringing decades of experience to bear on behalf of our clients, to allow them to arrive at a favorable result and get on with the process of living their lives.