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Trust & Estate Litigation


Walter Haverfield’s litigation attorneys counsel clients on all aspects of trust and estate disputes, including investigating potential claims, evaluating the merits of bringing a claim, defending a claim, and litigating a claim through trial or settlement.

Practice Group Leader

Mark S. Fusco, Chair

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Our Trust & Estate Litigation Difference

Our team represents both trustees and beneficiaries with leading counsel including estates of high-net-worth families, as well as more modest estates and trusts. To the extent that the trust and estate matters cannot be resolved, Walter Haverfield’s experienced trial attorneys provide comprehensive counsel built over decades of litigating high stakes trust and estate matters in both federal and state courts and fully understand how to proceed at trial if necessary.

We litigate trust and estate disputes of many kinds including:


Our litigation attorneys in our Cleveland and Columbus offices are consistently ranked and recognized by Best Lawyers®, Super Lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell, and more. At Walter Haverfield, we pride ourselves on becoming each client’s trusted advisor for all their litigation needs.


  • METROPOLITAN TIER 1: Banking and Finance Law
  • METROPOLITAN TIER 1: Commercial Litigation
  • METROPOLITAN TIER 1: Litigation – Labor and Employment
  • METROPOLITAN TIER 1: Litigation – Real Estate
  • METROPOLITAN TIER 1: Litigation – Trust and Estates
  • METROPOLITAN TIER 1: Real Estate Law
  • METROPOLITAN TIER 2: Construction Law
  • METROPOLITAN TIER 2: Criminal Defense: White-Collar
  • METROPOLITAN TIER 2: Litigation – Environmental
  • METROPOLITAN TIER 2: Mergers and Acquisitions Law
  • METROPOLITAN TIER 3: Bet-the-Company Litigation
  • METROPOLITAN TIER 3: Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law
  • METROPOLITAN TIER 3: Litigation – Construction


  • Serving as lead counsel in a trial in Probate Court in Cuyahoga County, Ohio in the defense of the estate of a matriarch of a high-net-worth family against a claim by two of her adult children that her will and trust were the product of undue influence exerted by the youngest of her five children. They represented the accused and the two other adult siblings who were named both individually and as executors and trustees in the case. Plus, they coordinated a strategic defense of the case based on the firm belief that the plaintiffs would not prevail at trial because no undue influence ever occurred. At the close of the plaintiffs’ case, the team moved the court for a directed verdict. Though rarely granted in a jury trial, the judge, in this case, agreed that the plaintiff had not presented sufficient evidence on the substantial elements of their case for it to proceed further with the jury. Their Motion for a Directed Verdict was granted. This was an extraordinary result and one that demonstrates the value of thorough preparation and effective lawyering.
  • Successfully defending a trustee of an ultra-high-net-worth family trust against claims that their client, both individually and as the president of a family office, breached certain fiduciary duties by failing to properly oversee the management of trust assets. The plaintiff claimed that the client allowed the investment manager charged with overseeing the trust to invest too heavily in precious metals and in particular, gold. The plaintiffs also sued the investment manager who successfully argued that a short statute of limitations applied to leave the client as the principal target. Rather than succumb to demands for millions of dollars in alleged “damages,” the client chose to proceed to trial. During five days of trial before a jury, the team demonstrated that the claims against their client were wholly without merit. This led to the dismissal of all claims against the client before the plaintiff rested its case.
  • Representing the beneficiaries of an ultra-high-net-worth family trust. The litigation involved a claim for trustee fees and counterclaims for breach of fiduciary duty and was litigated in federal court for almost two years. The matter was resolved with a confidential settlement (Jacobs v. Jacobs, Case No. 1:07-CV-01043, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, J. Boyko).
  • Representing the beneficiaries of a trust in resolving a dispute with a trustee arising from certain investment decisions made by that trustee. The amount at issue was more than $1 million and was resolved without litigation.