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Our Practices

Probate & Trust Litigation

The twin attributes of effective probate and trust litigation are legal strategy and humane sensitivity.

Sometimes a will does not provide what had been expected, or perhaps there are concerns that a loved one was not of sound mind or was under an external influence when the will was signed. It may be that a trustee or other fiduciary is providing less income to the beneficiaries than to himself, or that revised tax laws now allow greater tax savings and court approval is needed to change existing trust documents. Sometimes, in complex estates involving closely held businesses, the valuation and division of business or trust assets are disputed. These are just some of the circumstances our probate and trust litigation attorneys are retained to address.

We have seen a dramatic rise in the occurrence of disputes involving families, estates, trusts and property transfers in recent years. Clients are ably represented in proceedings, sensitive negotiations, at trial and in mediation of will contests, complaints involving trusts and deeds, and similar matters involving allegations of interference with inheritances and contested accounts. We are adept at defending, removing and appointing trustees or other fiduciaries and in all related adversarial court proceedings.

The partners in our probate and trust litigation practice are renowned as exceptional advocates. In fact, peers have rated Burns & Levinson probate and trust litigation partners at the highest level of all attorneys in the states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. In many instances our efforts in these non-adversarial, complex and sensitive negotiations and proceedings save our clients’ estates thousands – sometimes millions – of dollars. Our reputation is second to none for success in the courts, as well as for authorship of major and influential treatises for the legal community.

Burns & Levinson attorneys are also recognized as leaders in questions of guardianship, which is a particularly nuanced and multifaceted area of the law. For decades courts, lawyers and judges, as well as individual clients, have turned to our attorneys in cases involving individuals who lack mental competency to make their own financial or personal decisions. We routinely undertake the role of assisting a client seeking appointment as a guardian, are appointed to act as guardian, or represent clients in contesting an inappropriate appointment. Our lawyers work strategically and effectively with multidisciplinary professionals, including psychiatrists, social workers, protective service workers, state and local officials and agency administrators to resolve guardianship issues and achieve appropriate goal-directed representation.

Related Case Studies

Widow and her five adult children

The Probate & Trust Litigation Group at Burns & Levinson

Name Title Phone Email
Brian D. Bixby, Chairman Partner 617.345.3360
Ronald P. Barriere Partner 617.345.3654
Tiffany M. Bentley Associate 617.345.3212
Jordan P. Bowne Associate 617.345.3301
Ann Hetherwick Cahill Associate 617.345.3358
Benjamin C. Caldwell Associate 401.330.1751
Elizabeth G. Crowley Partner 617.345.3203
Lisa M. Cukier Partner 617.345.3471
Andrea T. Dunbar Associate 617.345.3527
Christine N. Fletcher Partner 617.345.3607
Nicholas Forgione Partner 617.345.3652
Steven C. Goodwin Partner 617.345.3653
Robert J. O'Regan Partner 617.345.3650
Lorraine P. Stark Associate 617-345-3202
Susan E. Stenger Partner 617.345.3739