Fiduciary Litigation


Richards Layton offers clients facing fiduciary controversies a unique advantage: the nuanced experience of one of Delaware’s most active and sophisticated trust practices, and the skills of the state’s largest and most renowned litigation teams. We regularly counsel both fiduciaries and beneficiaries on a wide range of disputes, including will contests, interpretation and construction of trusts and wills, and alleged breaches of fiduciary duty. Because our lawyers have represented parties on all sides of fiduciary disputes, we understand not only the legal issues but the different perspectives involved, and can achieve effective solutions either in court or through negotiation and settlement.

Court of Chancery Experience
The Delaware Court of Chancery is uniquely structured to take a sophisticated business perspective on fiduciary litigation concerns, and Richards Layton lawyers represent both fiduciaries and beneficiaries in a wide variety of cases. Disputes on which we advise include such issues as will contests, interpretation and construction of trusts and wills, and alleged breaches of fiduciary duty. We have resolved a variety of will and trust contests, including contested bequests and charitable pledge disputes.

Court of Chancery fiduciary controversies often involve trust terms and structure. Our firm played a leading role in drafting the Delaware trust statutes, and we have extensive knowledge of and experience with Delaware trust law as it has evolved. With Delaware’s largest trust law practice, we are well positioned to resolve disputes involving the terms of asset protection, dynasty or other trust structures.

Closely Held Businesses in Trust
We have a great deal of experience in resolving problems related to the tax and legal issues, and family relationships, that affect closely held business property held in trust. Often we advise our clients on their obligations and alternatives relating to trusteeship, using our insight into Delaware trust law to offer customized advice suited to specific situations. Because we have worked over the decades with so many family business owners, we offer practical help with the expectations and conflicts involved in family business trust relationships.

Fiduciary Dispute Resolution Counsel
As counsel to some of the leading Delaware financial institutions and individual fiduciaries that administer trusts, estates and guardianships, Richards Layton provides knowledgeable and sophisticated guidance to help them carry out their legal responsibilities effectively while avoiding conflict of interest or breach of fiduciary duty claims.

Our lawyers advise fiduciaries—whether as individual executors or as full trust departments—on the most effective strategies and techniques to administer trusts, estates, guardianships and other relationships.

Fiduciaries value our insights on the federal income, estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax issues and state internal and transfer tax issues involved in trust administration. When disputes arise, we act as counselors to:

  • Interpret trust instruments
  • Resolve questions of fiduciary duty
  • Handle conflicts between one or more beneficiaries and the fiduciary
  • Help fiduciaries deal with conflicts between two or more beneficiaries or among co-fiduciaries.

We fully understand the stringent legal and technical standards governing corporate and individual fiduciaries under Delaware law, and offer creative guidance that even the most skilled and careful fiduciaries find useful when dealing with beneficiaries’ expectations and demands.

Our firm also represents banks and trust companies and individuals as executors and trustees in the settlement of estates and the administration of trusts.

Beneficiary Dispute Resolution Counsel
Our fiduciary litigation lawyers represent charities, individuals, heirs, beneficiaries and third-party claimants in a wide variety of trusts and estates litigation and administration controversies. We have resolved a variety of will and trust contests, including contested bequests and charitable pledge disputes, striving to make sure that our clients receive what they were intended to receive under the laws of the will or trust.

In disagreements among family members as beneficiaries, we approach the controversy with the sensitivity and tact necessary for resolution. Tact is particularly necessary in situations involving divorce, remarriage, adoption or children from multiple marriages. Often in such instances, the family dynamics and the relationships between the parties are made known to a Richards Layton lawyer, giving us valuable insight into the most effective way to resolve the dispute. While we are fully prepared to litigate these controversies, our focus is often on effective negotiation and settlement that meets client needs while preserving family relationships.