Bassford Remele is a full-service litigation firm that devotes its practice exclusively to providing trial and appellate repreesntation for local, national, and international clients in a wide array of business litigation.
Trust and Estate Litigation
Bassford Remele’s Trust and Estate Litigation Group has been involved in many of the most high-profile trust and estate lawsuits in Minnesota during the last 25 years. Our team of attorneys serves business, family, individual and charitable organization clients – including trustees, trust companies, beneficiaries, guardians, conservators, personal representatives and other fiduciary organizations.
Our attorneys are experienced with and sensitive to the dynamics that are unique to trust and estate disputes. We understand that there is more to these disputes than dollars and cents; a conflict over a trust, will or estate can involve complex family dynamics and emotional issues that make resolution difficult. Our experience distinctly qualifies us to navigate clients through these types of issues, including:
- Petitions brought by beneficiaries or co-trustees against a trustee or personal representative for breach of trust
- Proceedings initiated by beneficiaries of trusts, wills, or estates in proceedings to replace a trustee or personal representative
- Actions by beneficiaries to obtain accountings, inventories, or other information from a trustee or personal representative
- Suits challenging the validity of a trust or will based on lack of capacity, undue influence, or other deficiencies
- Petitions based on failure to properly invest or failure to diversify trust assets
- Actions seeking to establish a guardianship
- Disputes over attorney or trustee fees
- Appeals of district court decisions in a trustee, estate or probate case
Galloway Trust Litigation: Successful defense of U.S. Bank in its capacity as a corporate trustee against claims of breach of trust, breach of fiduciary duty, and claim for surcharge brought by two trust beneficiaries who alleged that upon their mother's death, her estate paid millions of dollars in allegedly excessive estate taxes. Claims were brought in eleven separate trusts. Many of the claims were resolved in favor of U.S. Bank on summary judgment. The remaining claim - that U.S. Bank should have created a family limited partnership in order to reduce estate taxes - was tried in a 10-week bench trial before the Honorable Margaret M. Marrinan in Ramsey County District Court. On April 25, 2007 Judge Marrinan issued a 180-page Order, including voluminous findings of fact and conclusions of law, holding that U.S. Bank fully complied with its fiduciary obligations to the beneficiaries.
Williams Trust Litigation: Representation of the Williams family, the family which started the Creamette Pasta Company, in a surcharge claim against Norwest Bank (now Wells Fargo), which resulted in a multi-million judgment in favor of the Williams Family Trust as a result of the corporate trustee’s failure to diversify the Trust’s assets. The Court of Appeals decisions are reported at 591 N.W.2d 743 (1999) and 631 N.W.2d 398 (2001).
Devine Family Trust: Representation of U.S. Bank in a claim by a trust beneficiary alleging breach of duty with respect to trust distributions. The Court granted summary judgment to U.S. Bank. This judgment was affirmed by the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which set forth standards in Minnesota for determining trustee abuse of discretion. 672 N.W.2d 912, 919 (Minn. Ct. App. 2004).
Hill Trust Litigation: Successful defense of First Trust National Association (now U.S. Bank) in a billion dollar claim that involved litigation in Minnesota, Oregon and California. The claim against First Trust involved allegations of mismanagement of timberland held in trust. After several years of litigation and a 40-day trial, the court held that First Trust had not breached its duty. This decision was subsequently affirmed on appeal. In re Hill Trust, 499 N.W.2d 475 (1999). Subsequent representation of First Trust in a successful petition to create a limited partnership to hold the Hill Trust’s timber assets.
Daniels Family Trust: Representation of trust beneficiaries to determine the rights of adopted children and grandchildren. This issue was ultimately resolved by the Minnesota Supreme Court, 361 N.W.2d 801 (1985).
Weber Trust Litigation: Successful defense of First National Bank (predecessor to U.S. Bank) in its capacity as a trustee on a trust involving the holding of stock in a privately held company and the administration of that asset upon the death of the founder of the company and the trustor of the trust. The case was tried successfully to a jury in federal court.
Representative Clients: U.S. Bank, U.S. Trust (now Bank of America), and the Williams Family (heirs to founder of Creamette Pasta Company). In addition, the Firm has represented a number of beneficiaries of large Minnesota dynasty trusts in which litigation was prosecuted under seal and subject to confidentiality orders.
Bassford Remele Lawyers: Lewis A. Remele, Jr., Alan I. Silver (Chair), Patrick J. Sauter, Robin Ann Williams, Steven M. Sitek, Casey D. Marshall, Amie E. Penny Sayler, and Aram V. Desteian.
Click here to view a list of seminars presented by the Trust and Estate Litigation Group.
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