Jeff has served as an expert witness on many estate and trust issues including professional competence, interpretation of documents and trust administration. He has evaluated cases and offered opinions for both plaintiffs’ and defense lawyers.
He has practiced estate and trust law for over forty year and has planned and settled hundreds of estates. He has been counsel or co-counsel in will and lifetime transfer contests, construction proceedings and technical trust litigation.
Jeff is an elected Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC). He has an “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell and a rating of “10” on AVVO. He’s listed in “Who’s Who in American Law” and “Superlawyers”. He is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association estates and probate executive committee.
Some issues on which Jeff has worked as an expert witness include:
Fees for estate planning and settlement
Breach of trustee’s duties
- Failure to take control of all assets
- Unauthorized investments
- Improper delegation
- Not considering a beneficiary’s resources before making distributions
Technical trust issues
- Effect of the exercise of a power of appointment
- Meaning of provisions in wills and trust agreements
- Vesting of interests
Incorrect legal advice
- Increasing estate taxes by not advising a beneficiary to disclaim a bequest and fund a “bypass” trust
- Advising a client that creating a revocable trust would provide creditor protection
What makes an effective expert?
Technical knowledge. Since law school, where Jeff received the highest grade in his class in estate planning, he has been a devoted practitioner of the craft of estate planning and settlement. He has lectured at seminars around the country on various trust and tax issues and has published over twenty five articles. Jeff is an active participant in a peer to peer discussion forum. He studies materials from ACTEC and other sources to keep abreast of current developments and techniques.
Analytical ability. Jeff examines and organizes materials from diverse sources, applies relevant legal principles and tests his assumptions. He can ably examine wills, trust agreements, other witnesses’ reports and depositions and spots issues which may not be readily apparent. He expresses his opinions clearly and effectively.
Strong communication skills. An expert witness’ job is to furnish the judge or jury with special guidance drawn from his or her particular training, knowledge or experience. In a sense, an expert witness is a teacher. Many highly qualified attorneys speak and write in “Lawyer-ese.” Jeff has the unique ability to explain technical concepts in plain English, often using drawings or other aids. He regularly receives excellent reviews for clarity of presentation from participants at continuing legal education seminars.
Cool under fire. Whether at a deposition or in court, an expert witness must be able to maintain his focus and composure. He cannot allow himself to become emotional or argue with counsel. Clients have commented on Jeff’s presence and patience under pressure.
Experience. Many estate and trust lawyers have never been in a courtroom since they were sworn in and are not comfortable there. Jeff has, and is. He has maintained an avid interest in dispute resolution and has participated in many litigations.
You only get one chance in court. Make it count. Please call or write for more information.
Click here to read Jeff’s article, “Prophylaxis for Probate Practitioners,” on malpractice prevention from the University of Miami Estate Planning Institute. Although it was written over twenty years ago, the principles are even more relevant in today’s hyper-litigious environment.