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  • A Bi-Monthly Electronic Publication for Section Members
  • December 2012

Group and Committee News

Litigation, Ethics and Malpractice Group

The Litigation, Ethics and Malpractice Group and its two committees, the Probate and Fiduciary Litigation Committee and the Ethics and Malpractice Committee, have remained very active the past year. The Group Chair is Matthew Matiasevich of California, and the Group Vice Chair is Steven Mignogna of New Jersey.

The Group continues to: develop substantive programs for the Section; provide free quarterly hot topic conference calls on the latest issues impacting attorneys who practice in the respective Committee areas; submit various publications to the ABA; and participate in Section meetings.

For example, on January 9, 2013, the Group will hold its next quarterly free conference call. Dana Fitzsimons, Senior Vice President and Associate Fiduciary Counsel with Bessemer Trust, and Co-Chair of the Group’s Ethics and Malpractice Committee, will lead a discussion on the most significant court rulings in fiduciary litigation during the last year. He will review selected recent cases from across the country in several areas including trust investments, distributions, account closing procedures, surcharge exposure, and modification and termination of trusts.

During 2012, the quarterly calls addressed a variety of other important issues, such as: multi-jurisdictional disputes in trust and estate litigation; pre-judgment freezing of assets in trust and elder-abuse litigation; and other hot topics around the country, including the standards for assessing testamentary capacity, various approaches to pre-death will and trust contests, and the tort of intentional interference with inheritance.

The Group and its committees will also present two programs at the Section’s 24th Annual Spring Symposia in Washington, D.C., on May 2-3, 2013. The first program will address mediating trust and estate disputes and will touch on a number of fascinating issues, such as specific strategies, the dangers and traps when mediating this type of dispute, difficult personality types, the perils of the hasty settlement agreement, etc.

The other program will focus on ethics in trust and estate litigation, and the host of complications which are unique to the area – for example, the attorney-client privilege, fees and fee applications, retention letters, and the roles of estate planning counsel.

Finally, the Group is also working on an eCLE program for the Section, as to the dangers which typically arise during the first phases of estate litigation.