Trust, Estate and Fiduciary Litigation
An aging population and the accompanying transfer of wealth over recent years has resulted in a significant increase in the number and frequency of disputes relating to trusts, wills, and fiduciaries. Fortunately, Mr. Morton is well prepared to respond to this wave of trust, estate and fiduciary related litigation. This is because, for almost twenty years, the focus of his practice has been on this specialized area of law. As a result, Mr. Morton combines the courtroom experience of a litigator and the substantive knowledge of a trusts and estate attorney. In this context, Mr. Morton represents beneficiaries, disinherited heirs, executors and trustees in both jury trials and proceedings before the Clerk of Court. Examples of specific matters in this area with which Mr. Morton has experience include the following:
- Will disputes and caveat actions, including challenging or defending the validity of a last will;
- Disputes regarding the meaning or interpretation of both wills and trust, including by filing or defending declaratory judgment actions;
- Breach of fiduciary duty, conflict of interest, self-dealing and constructive trust claims relating to trusts, powers of attorney, and wills;
- Representing parties in disputed matters before the Clerk of Superior Court, including actions to force accountings or to replace trustees and executors;
- Actions to terminate or modify irrevocable trusts;
- Spousal elective share claims;
- Financial elder abuse when fiduciaries use their authority to improperly benefit themselves;
- Alternative dispute resolution (e.g., mediation and arbitration) and settlement negotiations.
If you have questions or concerns regarding any of these or other trust and estate litigation matters, please contact Mr. Morton to discuss whether he can assist you or your loved ones protect your rights. Some cases are accepted on contingency fee arrangements.
Guardianship and Incompetency Matters
When a person becomes mentally incapacitated (for example, by Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia) or physically incapacitated (for example, by falling into a coma) it is often necessary to establish a legal guardianship to assist the person with the management of their personal and financial affairs.
If your spouse, child, parent or other loved one is no longer capable of taking care of himself or herself, he or she may need a legal guardian appointed by the Clerk of Court. If the family cannot agree on the choice of a guardian, these matters can result in complex litigation for which you need a guardianship lawyer with the experience to help you advocate for your position. For years, Mr. Morton has represented clients in connection with disputed guardianship and incompetency matters. With his depth of knowledge of guardianship law combined with his courtroom experience as a civil litigator, Mr. Morton is ready to help clients in connection with this emotional and specialized are of practice. In addition, Mr. Morton often helps guardians or other parties deal with complications and arise after their initial appointment as a guardian (for example, motions to modify guardianships, motions to replace guardians, petitions to sell property, and accounting issues). Please contact us to schedule a consultation on how we can assist you protect your family member.
Civil Litigation and Appeals
Mr. Morton began his career in 1994 traveling around North Carolina handling a wide variety of personal injury and business dispute cases. This work included wrongful death claims, serious personal injury cases, and complex business disputes. Over the years, he represented both defendants and plaintiffs with positive results for his clients. After forming a boutique estate planning and litigation firm in the early 2000s, Mr. Morton’s primary focus shifted to the area of estate litigation; however, he continued to represent select clients in complex civil litigation cases. For example, administrators and executors often need assistance to recover damages for the accidental death of a decedent for the benefit of heirs. These wrongful death and personal injury cases are often taken on contingency fee arrangements. In addition, contract or business disputes can also arise in the context of estate administration (for example, defending or asserting claims by or against estates).
Sometimes cases do not end after the jury verdict or an order of the judge. Often there can be a basis for filing and appeal to the North Carolina Court of Appeals and the North Carolina Supreme Court. Mr. Morton has handled numerous case at the appellate level. Such cases include successful arguments in reported cases relating to trust, estate and fiduciary litigation. Please contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss how we can help you.