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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

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Thursday, February 27, 2020

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will guide 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, a sense of entitlement by beneficiaries, and a thriving economy. 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.

Some 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, counsel must 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 discuss 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 mitigate 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 are the causes of action 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, and how can fiduciaries curtail harsh penalties?
  • What preventive planning should be implemented to avoid claims of breach of fiduciary duty?


Dibble, Melissa
Melissa Osorio Dibble, Esq.

Archer & Greiner

Ms. Dibble concentrates her practice in the area of Estate and Trust Litigation in New Jersey and Pennsylvania....  |  Read More

Fallon, Martin
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

Grasso, Angelo
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

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