Trusts & Estates

Attorneys at Gentry Locke assist in all aspects of estate planning and estate administration.

We work with clients to create estate plans that are tailored to their individual needs while minimizing taxes and avoiding unnecessary probate proceedings. Our estate planning lawyers regularly work with business owners to design succession plans to accomplish their specific goals.

We advise clients on complex estate planning matters, offering creative, effective, and sophisticated solutions.

We also guide executors, trustees, and other fiduciaries through the challenges and nuances of an estate or trust administration.

Trust & Estate Litigation

In addition to our array of trust and estate planning services, Gentry Locke handles all types of litigation concerning wills, trusts, estates, and end-of-life issues, including:

  • Prosecution and defense of will contests
  • Prosecution and defense of claims against trustees, executors, administrators, and personal representatives
  • Appointment, removal, and replacement of fiduciaries, including executors, personal representatives, guardians, conservators, and attorneys‑in‑fact
  • Prosecution and defense of creditors’ and heirs’ claims against estates
  • Prosecution and defense of claims of undue influence and lack of mental capacity
  • Collection, marshalling, accounting, and distribution of estate assets
  • Modification or termination of trusts
  • Litigation concerning powers of attorney, living wills, and medical directives
  • Litigation concerning life insurance, “payable on death” accounts, and transfers of decedents’ real estate, stock, bank accounts, and personal property
  • Litigation arising from elder care abuse and fraud

We encourage you to review our Trusts and Estates Practice Group attorneys’ personal pages for additional information and then contact us to discuss your legal needs.


Probate refers to the court-supervised process of handling a deceased person’s financial affairs. Personal representatives who are responsible for administering a loved one’s estate face many significant decisions and issues throughout the process, which may include:

  • When to pay creditors
  • When and how to make distributions from the estate
  • Whether to file and how to prepare inventories and accountings

Gentry Locke attorneys guide personal representatives throughout this process and ensure that their interests are protected. We also advise beneficiaries regarding their rights during the probate process.

Guardians & Conservators

Sometimes a person becomes legally incapacitated, and cannot independently make decisions about finances, medical care, or other important life activities. It may be due to injury or diseases associated with aging, or it may be a genetic or other condition that affects a developing child. In such situations, the appointment of a guardian or conservator may be necessary. If you believe a family member or loved one needs this kind of assistance, Gentry Locke attorneys can petition the court to appoint you or another trusted person as a guardian or conservator.

It should be noted that poor judgment is not incapacity. A person is legally incapacitated if a court determines the person to be “incapable of receiving and evaluating information effectively or responding to people, events, or environments to such an extent that the individual lacks the capacity to:

  • Meet the essential requirements for his health, care, safety, or therapeutic needs without the assistance or protection of a guardian, or
  • Manage property or financial affairs or provide for his support or for the support of his legal dependents without the assistance or protection of a conservator.” (Va. Code Ann. § 64.2-2000)

A guardian (dealing with health and safety) or a conservator (dealing with finances or property) can be granted broad powers or may have limited power to decide specific issues. Each situation is unique. The scope of the guardian’s or conservator’s power is set by Virginia law and the court order specific to the individual. Guardians and conservators have a fiduciary responsibility to the incapacitated person, meaning they must act with the utmost loyalty and care—their actions must be above reproach. The actions of a conservator are monitored by the local Commissioner of Accounts, through periodic filings of accounting documents.

If the person is not found to be legally incompetent, alternatives are available to provide assistance. General or durable powers of attorney, advance medical directives, trusts and other documents can be used to appoint people to help with specific tasks or issues.

Consult with the attorneys who are listed on this page to learn what options may best serve your situation.

Have questions? Contact us.