Estate and Trust Fiduciary Litigation: Minimizing and Defending Breach of Duty Claims

Navigating Causes of Action; Leveraging Waivers, Investment Duty Exceptions, Standing and In Terrorem Clauses

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Recorded event now available

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Program Materials

This CLE webinar will provide guidance to estate planning counsel on minimizing and defending breach of fiduciary duty claims when administering trusts and estates. The experienced panelists will discuss the most contentious breach of duty claims and effective defenses and techniques to reduce the possibility of a lawsuit.


Estate planning counsel must be prepared to handle the complexities of fiduciary litigation now more than ever. Fiduciary scrutiny is increasing due to an aging population, sense of entitlement by beneficiaries, and an economy struggling toward recovery. Beneficiaries are filing suits for actions they perceive to be against their best interests or in opposition to settlors’ intentions. Lawsuits also allege fiduciaries are ill-equipped to handle the administration of complex estates and trusts.

A number of individuals are subject to liability exposure, including trustees being held responsible for the actions of other trustees, employers and managers of fiduciaries, or principals who have outsourced fiduciary responsibility to an agent.

Adverse outcomes from fiduciary litigation can cause a great deal of harm to financial professionals, institutional fiduciaries and wealth management companies. Thus, it is imperative for counsel to be prepared to implement best practices to minimize exposure from the beginning, leverage defense techniques, and curtail harsh financial penalties and removal. 

Listen as our distinguished panel reviews litigation techniques for defending trustees, executors and administrators in fiduciary litigation. The panelists will review actions for breach of fiduciary duty within the estate and trust context, current defenses available, and how to minimize penalties in the worst case scenario. Finally, the panelists will review techniques to minimize exposure to breach of duty claims.



  1. Causes of action for breach of fiduciary duty
    1. Mishandling of trust and estate assets
    2. Failure to fund and make distributions
    3. Tax offenses
  2. Defenses
    1. Waivers/exculpatory clauses
    2. Family investment exception
    3. Standing
    4. Bifurcated fiduciaries
    5. In terrorem clauses
  3. Remedies
  4. Risk management/preventive planning


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What causes of action are pursued for alleged breach of fiduciary duty?
  • What defense techniques should be used to combat allegations of violation of breach of fiduciary duty?
  • When a breach is found, how can fiduciaries curtail harsh penalties?
  • What preventive planning should be implemented to avoid claims of breach of fiduciary duty?


Martin S. Fallon
Martin S. Fallon


Mr. Fallon is a partner in the firm's Litigation Group and has experience in the areas of commercial litigation,...  |  Read More

Angelo Michael Grasso
Angelo Michael Grasso

Greenfield Stein & Senior

Mr. Grasso specializes in trusts and estates related litigation. He has been involved in numerous Surrogate’s and...  |  Read More

Anthony R. La Ratta
Anthony R. La Ratta

Archer & Greiner

Mr. La Ratta concentrates his practice in the area of commercial litigation, with an emphasis in litigation...  |  Read More

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