Probate Litigation Attorneys
A primary factor many consider when looking to hire an attorney to pursue a Trust dispute is the cost of representation (i.e. attorney fees and out of pocket litigation expenses). In deciding whether to hire an attorney, prospective clients almost always ask: “If I win, can I get my attorney fees paid?” Under Ohio law, the short answer is often “no”. However, a recent case interpreting a statute enacted in 2007 will help Trust beneficiaries recover attorney fees and litigation expenses in a Trust dispute.
One advantage of using a trust for estate planning is privacy. The probate process is generally all a matter of public record for any inquiring mind. Trusts, though intended to be more private, can become public when disputes arise that pull the administration into court. But a new Ohio law is changing that.
Reprinted from Probate Law Journal of Ohio, with permission of Thomson Reuters. Copyright © 2017.
Years after the initial enactment of the Ohio Trust Code and articles published in this journal1 the Tenth District Ohio Court of Appeals in Zook, et al. v. JP Morgan Chase Bank National Association, et al., 10th Dist. No. 15AP-751, 2017-Ohio-838, conﬁrmed the viability of options under the Trust Code that afford trustees a path to ﬁnality in trust administration not subject to continuing court jurisdiction. Speciﬁcally, the Zook court conﬁrmed what readers of this journal and those familiar with the Trust Code already “know”:
Twenty-four Reminger attorneys were included on the 2018 Best Lawyers in America© list, including 17 from our Cleveland office, four from our Columbus office, two from our Sandusky office, and one from our Cincinnati office. Of that group, four were honored in the category of Litigation-Trusts and Estates, and Trusts and Estates.
Reminger Co., LPA is proud to announce that Adam M. Fried has been honored as "Best Lawyers® 2018 Lawyer of the Year” for Litigation - Trusts and Estates, Cleveland.
Adam received the recognition from Best Lawyers in America, a respected legal publication that selects its outstanding attorneys by conducting peer-review surveys in which thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their peers.
Ten years after the first enactment of the Ohio Trust Code, in Zook, et al. v. JP Morgan Chase Bank National Association, et al., 10th Dist. No. 15AP-751, 2017-Ohio-838, the Tenth District Ohio Court of Appeals gave insight into protections under the Ohio Trust Code afforded trustees against beneficiary claims and a provided a roadmap for a beneficiary to challenge such protection.
Following up on the recent blog post on basic principles of trust reporting, the Fifth District Court of Appeals released a timely analysis involving a trustee’s failure to account and an award of attorney fees against the trustee for their breach of duty in McHenry v. McHenry, (5th Dist.), 2017-Ohio 1534. The decision, originating out of the Stark County Probate Court is significant for two reasons: (1) it provides a thorough analysis of a trustee’s duty to account even in the face of trust language relieving the trustee of his duty to account; and (2) the court awarded attorney fees in excess of the value of the compensatory damages, pursuant to its authority under R.C. 5810.04.
You are a trust beneficiary.
You have no idea what is in the trust, what has been spent out of the trust, and what will be spent out of the trust.
Must the trustee open his books to you? What rights do you have to receive this information?
Great wealth, in the trillions of dollars, will be transferred from one generation to the next as our population ages. While most estates proceed as intended, there will always be greed and dysfunction among a small percentage of American families; so much so, that business for attorneys skilled in the pursuit or defense of estate disputes will be plentiful, as the number of disputes centered on challenges over the rights to a decedent’s assets will explode in the years to come.