Trust & Estate Litigation

Our Trust & Estate Litigation practice group is comprised of experienced trial attorneys who focus their practices solely on complex disputes relating to trusts, estates, and conservatorships.

Reputation as Leaders

Hopkins & Carley has a long-standing reputation as one of the premier trust and estate litigation law firms in Northern California.  Throughout our history, businesses, families, high net worth individuals, private professional fiduciaries, corporate fiduciaries, educational institutions, and charitable organizations have relied on us to provide efficient, cost-effective, and client-centric advocacy.  While our primary goal is to achieve a prompt resolution, we also regularly handle matters from pre-litigation negotiation through trial and appeal.

Comprehensive Coverage

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

  • Trust and will contests
  • Accounting disputes and forensic accountings
  • Construction, modification, and reformation actions
  • Elder financial abuse and undue influence
  • Trustee breach of duties and removal actions
  • Establishing contested conservatorships
  • Valuation disputes
  • Tax disputes
  • Related civil actions

Our clients also benefit from our ability to draw on the depth and expertise of the firm’s other practice areas, including Family Wealth & Tax Planning, Real Estate, Employment, Corporate, and Appellate, as well as our industry groups.  This comprehensive approach enables us to address related issues efficiently, and to deliver favorable results to our clients.

  • Obtained a judgment of nonsuit in favor of our client, the trustee of a family trust and oldest child, in a jury trial involving a claim of financial elder abuse in excess of $50 million. 
  • Following a court trial in which we proved fraud and undue influence, we obtained a judgment on behalf of our clients that cancelled a 98-year lease. 
  • In a case involving a dispute over who was the intended beneficiary of an ambiguous residuary clause in a trust, the trial court awarded the entire trust residue, valued in excess of $5 million, to our client.
  • Successfully voided a marriage on summary judgment in a claim against an estate-planning professional who married her 82-year-old client after she prepared his estate plan and learned he was wealthy.  Affirmed on appeal.
  • Represented a victim of financial elder abuse when her life insurance agent and trustee of her welfare benefit plan admittedly stole $1.5 million from her life insurance policy.  We sued the life insurance company for its own negligence and won at trial, enabling our client to recover her losses, including punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.  
  • “Marrying Into Elder Abuse”,  California Trusts & Estates Quarterly, Vol. 22, Issue 1, 2016
  • “Obliterating the Hasso Decision:  New Legislation Protects Remainder Beneficiaries but Gives Income Beneficiaries a Run for Their Money”, California Trusts and Estates Quarterly, Vol. 19, Issue 3, 2013
  • “Before and After:  A Trustee’s Duties to Remainder Beneficiaries Before a Settlor’s Death (and After Estate of Giraldin)”, Steve Braccini, California Trusts and Estates Quarterly, Vol. 18, Issue 3, 2012
  • "Duke" Blazes a New Trail in Estate Law – California Supreme Court Reverses Course, Changing 50 Years of Precedent
  • Requiring In-Home Caregivers to Obtain Permits
  • An Order Compelling an Accounting is Not Appealable, Unless It Expressly or Implicitly Decides Other Issues That Could be the Subject of an Appealable Order

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