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Trust & Estate Litigation

The law is a reflection of the times in which we live. This is particularly true with litigation relating to trusts and estates.

In the United States and elsewhere, the 1970s were a time of dramatic cultural change. It was then that the divorce rate began to increase steadily, ushering in changes in family structures and financial consequences with which we’re often now dealing in the courtroom.

According to Ellen McKissock, the head of Hopkins & Carley’s Trust & Estate Litigation practice, “Many of the marriages, re-marriages, domestic partnerships and blended families of the past 20 or 30 years have put stresses on estates.”

“These are naturally very trying circumstances for most people. But when combined with the high net worth created, for example, by California’s now graying dot-com pioneers, it’s a game changer. There’s now an unprecedented demand for trust and estate lawyers whose skill set extends beyond understanding testamentary instruments, but also are comfortable and knowledgeable in litigation. Likewise, the typical civil litigator does not understand the special rules and nuances of the probate arena. Hopkins & Carley is one of the few firms that has specialists combining these two skill sets.”

We represent a wide  variety of clients, including private and institutional fiduciaries, individual beneficiaries, charitable organizations and others. Our clients bring us a wide range of issues, ranging from trust and will contests, construction and reformation actions, financial elder abuse matters, trustee disputes, conservatorships, tax matters, real estate issues and more. In short, we handle all aspects of trust and estate litigation, from litigation prevention through trial and appeal.

Comprehensive Coverage
Whether in private mediation or arbitration, or in court, our services cover a wide range of circumstances in which skilled and aggressive advocacy is needed, including:

A Reputation as Leaders
Just about any lawyer can look up what California courts have said about trusts, estates and probate issues. Our lawyers, however, regularly practice before the probate courts and our knowledge of the law, as well as the probate judges and examiners, provides us with greater perspective in strategizing in a particular matter. As Ellen McKissock puts it, “We have been lead counsel in several large, difficult, high-profile cases, including key appellate cases. We have helped shape the law.”

As a result, Hopkins & Carley has earned a reputation as one of the leading trust and estate litigation law firms in Northern California. Our team of senior attorneys, associates and dedicated paralegals is sought by leading individuals, families, closely-held businesses, mid-market companies, individual and corporate fiduciaries, charitable organizations, and educational institutions for efficient, cost-effective and client-comes-first advocacy.

Our Litigators
The members of our group are seasoned courtroom lawyers, with a combined total of more than 60 years of litigation experience. Whenever an adversary threatens our client with a lawsuit, we work first to try to resolve the matter cost-effectively out of court. However, we never negotiate from a position of weakness. Our litigators are experienced, capable, and always ready to head to court if that is what the client ultimately desires. However, every step of the way we evaluate and discuss with the client what is the most cost-effective way to achieve their goal.

Litigation Support
Hopkins & Carley’s Trust & Estate Litigation clients also benefit from the group’s ability to draw on the depth and expertise of our firm’s Family Wealth & Tax Planning, Real Estate, and Corporate, Tax & Business Transaction departments. This support enables our litigators to address related issues that help us reach favorable settlements.

We are known for our ability to navigate disputes in creative, tax-efficient ways that minimize family strife, expense, and publicity. This helps us bring about the best negotiated resolution.

Client Successes
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