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Practice Overview

Trusts and Estates Litigation

Cravath has a long history of litigating complex trusts and estates matters. As early as 1900, the Guthrie, Cravath and Henderson firm, the predecessor to the modern Cravath Firm, successfully represented Mrs. Henry Bradley Plant, the widow of a wealthy client, in a hard‑fought challenge to his will. Since then, the Firm has handled a variety of matters relating to trusts, estates and probate matters. Although most matters relating to probate of wills drafted by the Firm are customarily handled by lawyers from our Trusts and Estates Department, more complex matters often require the assistance of the Firm’s litigators.

Recent examples include seeking modification to a charitable gift of art under the doctrine of cy pres, representing the court‑appointed guardian of Brooke R. Astor and successfully defending against a challenge to the guardian brought by Mrs. Astor’s son.

Some of the Firm’s trusts and estates litigation practice is handled on a pro bono basis. For example, the Firm successfully represented the Martha Graham Dance Company in a challenge to the Company’s ownership of certain dances that were created by the legendary dancer Martha Graham and given to the Company before she died.