Polsinelli’s Trust and Estate Litigation practice delivers effective, straightforward, and responsive legal counsel based on a substantive blend of experience in both litigation and probate/trust matters. Polsinelli’s attorneys have decades of collective experience and provide valuable insight into litigation matters involving wills, trusts, guardianships and a host of other proceedings involving disputes over assets and related matters.

We have successfully resolved for both plaintiff and defendant clients a significant range of such issues, including:
  • Will contests
  • Trust contests
  • Discovery of assets actions
  • Contested conservatorships
  • Contested guardianships
  • Proceedings to remove personal representatives (executors) and trustees
  • Amendment and termination of trusts
  • Biological heirship and legitimacy of heirs
  • Church-related trusts for departing congregations
  • Tortious interference with inheritance rights
Because these cases often involve serious disruption in the lives of litigants and their families, we focus on minimizing the impact on our clients to the fullest extent possible. When  appropriate, we will at times recommend alternative dispute resolution in lieu of contentious court proceedings. However, when the facts support a swift and determined approach to the courts, the Trust and Estate Litigation Practice Group has a history of obtaining successful results for our clients. 

With the national reach of our firm, Polsinelli’s attorneys have litigated to successful resolution substantial cases involving hundreds of millions of dollars in assets in a variety of jurisdictions, including most of the Midwestern states, Arizona, Maryland, Michigan, Colorado, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, and Delaware. We also maintain productive and practical relationships with estate planning attorneys and forensic accountants, to better deliver on our goal of providing comprehensive legal counsel that takes into account the full range of a client’s personal or business objectives. Members of the group are regular presenters at various professional programs and four members of the firm are Fellows in the prestigious American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.
  • Significant ruling in the Missouri Supreme Court discussing when a trust is created/amended and the burden of proof to achieve that result. After a victory in the trial court regarding whether a grantor’s handwritten letter was operative to amend his trust, the court of appeals reversed, holding that evidence and testimony of the grantor’s intent should not have been admitted. Writing for a unanimous court, the court ultimately affirmed the lower court’s ruling.
  • Represented trustee clients whose beneficiary distributions had been reduced to the point of experiencing financial pressure. The trustee then sought to personally buy them out for a price well below the value of the assets. On behalf of our clients we brought suit to remove the trustee and for other relief. The assets were subsequently properly valued and buyout went forward for a significantly higher price.
  • Represented trust in contest brought by disaffected relatives challenging longstanding trust provisions. Successfully presented substantial evidence indicating that grantor’s wishes were being correctly followed and that she did not want the contestants to share in her estate.
  • Represented minority shareholder who had assisted in initial purchase of a company but was not active in its operation. The majority shareholder later misreported the company’s profitability and shared no dividends or distributions with the minority shareholder. The discovery of multimillion profits, as opposed to a break even representation for years, prompted a claim for breach of fiduciary duty. Secured a jury verdict for clients with seven-figure punitive damages award.
  • Represented relatives against defendant, who had gotten a relative with a compromised mental state to sign over assets that were to pass by will to others. Suit was brought successfully to set aside the transfers as having been achieved through undue influence/improper means.
  • • Represented a child in recovery action in father’s probate estate. When the father and mother had divorced decades earlier, the father had agreed to leave a portion of his estate to the couple’s child as part of the divorce decree. When father died his will made no such provision. Successfully recovered amount owed to child.
  • Represented family members of a person with severely diminished mental capacity against a caregiver with power of attorney, who used her authority to obtain her ward’s assets for herself and to disinherit other family members. Obtained jury verdict for clients with punitive damages.
  • Represented family members against child of grantor, who presented the trustee with a purported trust amendment disinheriting his siblings and leaving the entire estate to him. The validity of the document was successfully challenged and the method of amendment was also successfully challenged. 
  • Represented client against extended family members, who sought to disqualify them from inheriting his late father’s portion of a large trust on the grounds that a DNA test showed that he was not the biological child of the father. Obtained recovery for the client on the grounds that, regardless of biological paternity, a divorce court had adjudicated paternity as part of his parents’ divorce decree decades earlier. 
  • Represented beneficiaries in complaint that a trust company was engaged in self-dealing and was otherwise a poor administrator. Successfully obtained removal of the trust company for cause, and achieved judgment that the trust company would need to bear its own legal fees of approximately $750,000.
  • The Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District adopted Polsinelli attorney Robert Selsor’s interpretation of the Missouri Non-Probate Transfers Law in Estate of Merriott, 439 S.W.3d 259 (Mo. App. W.D. 2014) and quoted extensively from an article he wrote in the Missouri Bar Journal.