A Message from Brian H. Rolfe

The past few months have reminded me of what a wonderful group of people we have that work at and are associated with Kemp Klein. Our first charity golf outing was a resounding success with special thanks and gratitude to our clients, friends, and vendors as well as hardworking Kemp Klein team members. In addition to their efforts at the golf outing, our attorneys and staff have been out in the community doing a variety of interesting and impactful things. Whether they’re donating meals, writing books, supporting a national stage production, or winning top awards, these folks make us all proud to be part of the Kemp Klein team.



Eighteen of the firm’s lawyers have been included in the 2023 edition of Best Lawyers in America®

William B. Acker – Litigation and Controversy – Tax, Real Estate Law, Tax Law, and Trusts & Estates

C. Leslie Banas – Corporate Law and Real Estate Law

Cynthia E. Brazzil – Corporate Law

Richard C. Bruder – Closely Held Companies and Family Businesses Law

Joseph P. Buttiglieri – Litigation – Trusts & Estates

Ralph A. Castelli, Jr. – Corporate Law and Real Estate Law

Mark R. Filipp – Litigation – Labor and Employment

Brian R. Jenney – Elder Law and Trusts & Estates

David D. Marsh – Real Estate Law

Alan A. May – Litigation – Trusts & Estates and Trusts & Estates

Norman D. Orr – Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law and Corporate Law

Thomas C. Rauch – Real Estate Law

Brian H. Rolfe – Commercial Litigation

Stuart Sinai – Securities Regulation

Amy A. Stawski – Family Law

Thomas V. Trainer – Elder Law and Trusts & Estates

Michael D. Umphrey – Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships) and Trusts & Estates

Robert S. Zawideh – Arbitration and Litigation – Trusts & Estates



A Message from Brian H. Rolfe

I hope everyone is having a safe and relaxing summer. As usual, it has been busy around the Kemp Klein offices. Please help me welcome two attorneys who joined the firm this month: William E. Haines II and Neal Nusholtz. I would also like to congratulate Joseph P. Buttiglieri, Alan A. May and Ron Nixon on their recent court victories and accomplishments.
In this issue of the Commentator, we highlight our Alternative Dispute Resolution practice. This area of the law continues to heat up as clients increasingly choose to manage disputes outside of court. Our mediators are highly skilled and have excellent reputations in the courtroom setting as well as the ADR arena.
There are many great things happening at Kemp Klein this summer and we plan to continue this momentum throughout the rest of the year.



Buttiglieri and Nahhat Win Jury Verdict in Trust Contest

Kemp Klein attorneys Joseph P. Buttiglieri and Edward Nahhat recently won a jury’s verdict affirming a contested Trust Amendment. Shortly before his death, the Decedent amended his Trust – substantially reducing the share of one of his children, who previously was to receive one-third of the Trust assets. The decedent had a difficult relationship with his son, so he decided to favor his two daughters in the amendment, and allocate to them the great bulk of his estate. While he was a seriously ill widower, there was no allegation that the Decedent was mentally incapacitated, only that he had been allegedly “unduly influenced” by the two daughters to change his Trust near the end of his life.

Testimony from various witnesses and documents were presented over a three-day jury trial before seven jurors. After the close of the case and final arguments, the jury determined that the Decedent’s Trust was valid, declining to find undue influence, and sustaining the surviving daughters’ unequal benefit.

The Trust and the amendments were not drafted by Kemp Klein. Unfortunately, when the last Amendment was signed, the scrivener attorney did not ask one of the daughters (who was named as Trustee and beneficiary) to leave the room while the document was reviewed and the Decedent signed it. Also, the lawyer apparently was unable to bring a second witness to the signing appointment in the decedent’s home, so the attorney was the only disinterested live witness to the execution. These signing anomalies were factors in sending the case to jury. One key fact elicited at trial appears to have been the decedent’s decision to visit with a priest the day before he amended his trust for the last time.

Kemp Klein attorneys are always very careful in planning the execution of instruments in such a way to reduce potential challenges to those documents. This not only includes making sure that beneficiaries of the Trust and/or Will are not present at the execution – but that appropriate witnesses are available and, if necessary, that a medical examination of the client is conducted to assure not only their competence, but that the testator is not being unduly influence by anyone. While we try to make sure that our clients do not face litigation, it sometimes happens. Kemp Klein stands ready with an experienced litigation team to successfully represent clients in Trust, Will and all other contested Probate litigation.