Will Contests

We help you when the unthinkable happens—a dispute between family members, friends or loved ones of a deceased over the validity of his or her will. We have almost three decades of expertise handling these types of cases which can be based on undue influence and exploitation, lack of capacity, improper execution and fraud.

Document Construction

We frequently handle cases over the “construction” of governing instruments such as wills, trusts and beneficiary designations, among others. “Construction” is the process of litigating the meaning of a controlling document and turns on the question of whether the document is ambiguous (susceptible to more than one meaning). We have substantial experience to help you pursue judicial remedies to determine the meaning of such documents where the meaning may not be immediate apparent.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claims

We can help you with litigation services over the administration of probate estates, trusts, guardianship and conservatorships and powers of attorney.These relationships involve relationships which are defined by the law as “fiduciary” in nature and generally entail duties of prudence and loyalty, depending on the nature of the situation. We have prosecuted and defended breach of duty claims in fiduciary relationships controlling very substantial amounts of wealth.

Probate Litigation

We have decades of experience litigating probate disputes.  Probate litigation includes all actions related to a decedent’s estate under New Mexico’s Uniform Probate Code, including formal testacy proceedings, estate administration, non-probate transfers, estate tax apportionment, creditor claims and petitions for orders of complete settlement.

Challenges may arise at any time during the probate process, whether someone objects to the appointment of a personal representative or disputes an accounting or distribution.  Our team of attorneys are experienced probate and estate litigators.

Trust Litigation

We have decades of experience litigating trust and estate matters. We have litigated disputes in trusts ranging in value from $200,000 to over $200 million.
We represent individual beneficiaries, as well as charitable organizations, in a diverse range of actions related to trust litigation. We also represent individual and corporate trustees in complex trust-related disputes, including matters involving trust validity, trust interpretation, accounting, claims of trust mismanagement and breach of fiduciary duty. Professionally, our attorneys actively contribute to the development of trust and estate law through a variety of state and national efforts.

Fiduciary Risk Management and Opinion Letters

We provide services to professional and non-professional fiduciaries who have developed concerns over the administration of a trust and seek legal advice as to how to minimize litigation exposure related to a decision they are considering. Questions of accounting, document construction, asset retention and diversification can be the subject of such a review. If we are unable to achieve an acceptable result through a nonjudicial settlement agreement, we have substantial experience bringing such matters to Court to obtain a judicial result which may help bring certainty and minimize the risk involved.

Co-Counsel Relationships

We are often asked to provide co-counseling services to other attorneys who lack the subject matter expertise to handle disputes in contested trusts, estates, guardianships and conservatorships whether in New Mexico or elsewhere.  We are willing to serve in that role in certain cases.  Such relationships often involve consulting insurance defense counsel under professional liability insurance or consulting with the family estate planning attorney.

Mediation and Private Arbitration

Gregory W. MacKenzie also serves as a mediator of disputes involving will contests, document construction, breach of fiduciary duty claims, contested probates and trusts and contested guardianships and conservatorships. He is also available to serve as a private arbitrator in contested trusts and estates. Our litigation experience in these areas allow us to bring this knowledge to the mediation and arbitration process and assist litigants (or to-be litigants) in constructing creative solutions to resolve contested matters.

Guardianship and Conservatorship

Guardianships and conservatorships are always last resorts when an incapacitated person requires personal care or financial management and existing management plans either are absent or unworkable.  A family member or other concerned individual can ask the Court to protect the incapacitated individual and appoint a guardian or conservator.  Whether the guardian or conservator is an individual or a professional, the guardian or conservator has many important responsibilities and obligations.

We have many years of experience representing petitioners, guardians, conservators and other persons interested in the personal and financial wellbeing of incapacitated persons, including in disputes over whether a guardian or conservator is necessary; the appropriate scope of a protective order; whether the proposed fiduciary is appropriate; and whether the appointed fiduciary has breached a duty in managing the guardianship and conservatorship.  We have also litigated cases concerning the transfer of guardianships and conservatorships.  Professionally, we have actively contributed to the development of guardianship and conservatorship law at the state and national levels.

Conservatorship litigation requires a deep knowledge of both conservatorship law and litigation techniques.  Because we narrowly focus on trust, estate and conservatorship litigation, we can develop tailored solutions in an attempt to efficiently address our clients’ concerns over the management of the personal and financial affairs of those vulnerable individuals they care about.

Professional Trustee Partner

Your trust is in good hands.

As a professional trustee partner we can provide legal counsel to you as to construing the trust instrument, developing a distribution and termination plan, dealing with difficult beneficiaries and modifying or terminating a trust as the law may allow.