Counseling Fiduciaries and Beneficiaries


A fiduciary’s role in administering trusts and estates has become increasingly complicated. Addressing the needs and rights of beneficiaries against the backdrop of ever-changing federal or state laws can be challenging. Our lawyers, located across the country, have the experience and technical skill to guide corporate and individual fiduciaries in:

  • Properly carrying out the terms of a trust or will.
  • Utilizing different state laws to achieve desired administrative objectives.
  • Avoiding conflicts of interest and claims for breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Managing beneficiary relationships to avoid litigation.

Our fiduciary clients are increasingly interested in the flexibility provided by different state laws, including the ability to: alter certain terms of irrevocable trusts, change the state situs of a trust, settle disputes without the need for court proceedings, and separate the investment and distribution functions of a trustee. We take a creative approach by using these new state laws to assist fiduciaries and beneficiaries to most effectively administer trusts.

Tax Matters

The income, estate, gift, and generation-skipping tax issues involved in trust and estate administration require the highest level of tax experience. In many situations, our role is to provide the necessary technical advice to maximize long-term tax benefits to beneficiaries. We are often involved in designing and implementing tax efficient trust construction and reformation proceedings. In many cases, this can be achieved only by obtaining private rulings from the Internal Revenue Service. When disputes arise with federal and state taxing authorities, including audits, appeals, and court cases, our clients benefit from our nationally recognized tax controversy practice.

Dispute Resolution

We are routinely engaged by corporate and individual fiduciaries to assure they are fully discharging their responsibilities to beneficiaries. Often, concerns can be addressed through clear communication and innovative use of tax laws; however, issues must be resolved through negotiations and court proceedings. When necessary, we combine our experience in fiduciary matters with the litigation skills of our colleagues in defense of the fiduciary’s interest.

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Business Assets Held In Trust

Because we have worked for decades with family business owners, we offer fiduciaries practical insights into the expectations and potential conflicts they may face when responsible for a family business trust relationship. Our advice to fiduciaries involves an examination of alternative approaches with respect to their obligations for closely-held business property. When a fiduciary is also a family member, we are able to provide objective counsel to them as trustees or executors so that they can remain as independent as possible for legal, ethical, and family reasons.

Working with Beneficiaries

Beneficiaries rely upon our advice to better understand and protect their legal rights, arising under the terms of a trust agreement or will, or under state law. Often, a beneficiary’s interest is subject to fiduciary discretion and we are called on to assist in interpreting the scope of that discretion. In many cases, a trust or estate has multiple beneficiaries whose interests may conflict and disputes may arise among the beneficiaries. We are able to establish realistic expectations in a given situation and to work creatively on behalf of beneficiaries to achieve their individual goals.


Name Title Office Email
Partner Washington, D.C.
Counsel Denver
Counsel Cleveland
Partner Cleveland
Partner Cleveland
Partner Washington, D.C.
Partner Cleveland
Partner Denver
Partner Cleveland
Partner Washington, D.C.
Partner New York
Partner Cleveland
Associate Cleveland
Partner Denver
Counsel Cleveland
Partner Costa Mesa


  • Chambers HNW: Private Wealth Law
    • Colorado (2016 to 2022)
    • Ohio (2016 to 2022)
    • Washington, D.C. (2019 to 2022)
  • Recognized as one of the top law firms for client service, BakerHostetler was named to the 2020 BTI Client Service 30 for the sixth consecutive year.