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IN THE NEWS

On February 16, 2011, Matthew Rossiter moderated the Sixth Annual Fiduciary Litigation Seminar, and also presented the Annual Update on the Law. Over 100 attorneys were in attendance.

On November 3, 2010, Jamie Boock successfully obtained a verdict after a jury trial against the City of St. Louis for failing to timely repair a dangerous condition on a City of St. Louis road which resulted in a one-car accident. Defendants made no offer to settle before trial.

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Estate & Fiduciary Litigation:

Fiduciary litigation is a broad area of the law focused on protecting the interests of those who cannot protect themselves. A fiduciary is any individual or organization that has control of another person’s assets and must act for their benefit. Vast sums of money are currently managed under durable powers of attorney, in trusts or through other estate planning vehicles. A fiduciary is held to the highest standard of conduct, charged with protecting the interests of another above all else. Sometimes this trust is abused, and it becomes necessary to take legal action.

At Rossiter & Boock, we specialize in fiduciary litigation. This specialization sets us apart from most law firms in the St. Louis area. Most litigation attorneys have never prepared estate plans, and therefore may not possess the specialized knowledge of estate planning, trusts and probate administration necessary to handle the complex issues that arise in these cases. Many estate planning attorneys have never tried a case.

At Rossiter & Boock, our attorneys have prepared complex estate plans, and litigated the issues raised in the creation and administration of those plans. We have the knowledge of trust, estate and probate law to understand the complex issues facing our clients, and we have the trial experience necessary to confidently represent them. We frequently represent individuals, families, beneficiaries, executors, trustees, guardians, banks and trust companies when fiduciary claims arise, and provide valuable counsel to fiduciaries about their duties in order to assist them in avoiding future claims.

We have handled numerous cases in each of the following areas of law:

Will and Trust Contests

Most individuals today use wills and trusts for their estate planning needs. Through these documents, individuals can protect their assets for following generations, as well as control how their estate is to distributed. Unfortunately, many individuals slowly lose their mental acuity as they reach advanced age. At this point in their life, they can be susceptible to coercion or fraud, often from those upon whom they depend. All too often, individuals execute a will or trust when they do not have the required level of mental capacity to make the document valid. In addition, anyone executing a will or trust must be free from the undue influences of other individuals.

Often, you or a family member will be mourning the loss of a loved one, only to find that a new estate plan has been made without your knowledge. If this happens to you, you need to know your legal rights. At Rossiter & Boock, we have the knowledge and experience to quickly evaluate your situation and help you decide what action to take. We have handled numerous trust and will contests, taking them to successful resolution through settlement or trial.

Contested Estate Matters

After an individual dies, an estate is opened in the probate court to administer the decedent’s estate. Sometimes, disputes arise as to what assets were owned by the decedent at the time he or she died. In addition, individuals or companies can file claims against the estate for the debts of the decedent or services rendered to the decedent before death. There are multiple deadlines and procedural hurdles which can impact claims or other disputes in probate court.

If an individual owes you money at the time he or she dies, or if you believe you are entitled to compensation from an estate for any reason, you need an attorney to protect your interests. At Rossiter & Boock, we know how to handle contested estate matters. At any given time, we are handling multiple disputed estate matters. Sometimes these cases can be resolved amicably, and sometimes they must be tried before the court. We know probate law, and we try cases. With Rossiter & Boock, you can be confident that your interests will be protected.

Power of Attorney Litigation

A power of attorney is a document that gives an individual the authority to act on behalf of another. The person giving the authority is called a principal, and the person receiving the authority is called an “attorney-in-fact” or “agent”. An attorney-in-fact may have the authority to take control of all aspects of the principal’s life, including managing finances and health care decisions. With this authority comes responsibility. An attorney-in-fact is required to act in the best interests of the principal at all times. He or she is a fiduciary of the highest order.

Unfortunately, sometimes this authority and responsibility is abused. Attorneys-in-fact may transfer funds into their own name, change insurance beneficiary designations and alter trusts. If you or someone you know has been taken advantage of by an attorney-in-fact, you need to take action immediately. At Rossiter & Boock, we have successfully tried cases involving powers-of-attorney. We know your rights and we can protect them.

Disputes Regarding Trusts and Trustees

A trust is a document which gives a person or organization (the trustee) control over money or property that is held for the benefit of another (the beneficiary). A trustee is a fiduciary who is required by law to act in the best interests of the beneficiary. Disputes often arise between trustees and beneficiaries about how a trust should be managed, who should manage it and what property and information a beneficiary is entitled to receive.

As a beneficiary, you have significant rights which you need to protect. As a trustee, you need to understand your duties and responsibilities to all trust beneficiaries. When a dispute arises between trustees and beneficiaries, you need someone who can get things resolved. At Rossiter & Boock, we have handled all kinds of trust matters, including cases terminating trusts, removing trustees, suing trustees for mismanagement of trust funds and defending trustees against baseless lawsuits. We know the law, and we can help you.

DISCLAIMER: Neither the Supreme Court of Missouri nor the Missouri Bar reviews or approves certifying organizations or specialist designations. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.