Conservatorship Litigation—A Discussion of Strategic, Legal, and Ethical Issues – C03

Estates and Probate/Elder Law Track
Estates and Probate Section

Session C: 2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.  

About the Program
Contested Conservatorship proceedings can take a heavy toll on all involved. Determining the best course for a client is a challenging task and calls upon lawyers to weigh multiple strategic, legal, and ethical questions. This program will review these questions and offer perspectives from the bench and bar. But most importantly, the program is designed to be dialogue between and among the panel and the participants to ensure that the issues that are discussed and the perspectives that are shared are relevant to the participants practices. 

You Will Learn

    • What ethical obligations a lawyer has under Rule 1.14 to take protective measures when the client is impaired 
    • How one effectively addresses the “least restrictive means of intervention standard” in a contested proceeding 
    • The best ways to advise a client on the risks and benefits of commencing a contested conservatorship proceeding when the client seeks to protect a parent or close friend
    • The impact of recent court decisions 


Hon. David W. HopperProbate Court for the District of Greenwich, Greenwich 

David W. Hopper, born Greenwich, Connecticut, March 27, 1965; admitted to bar 1990, Connecticut. Education: University of Richmond (B.A., 1987); Quinnipiac University School of Law (f/k/a the University of Bridgeport School of Law) (J.D., 1990). Judge of Probate for the District of Greenwich, 2002-Present; Member, Connecticut Probate Assembly, 2002-Present; Member of the Executive Committee, Connecticut Probate Assembly, 2008-2011; Member, National College of Probate Judges; Member, Greenwich and Connecticut Bar Associations; Member, Board of Directors of First County Bank, 2007-Present; Member, Board of Directors for Transportation Association of Greenwich, 2002-2008; President of the Greenwich Old Timers Association, 2015-2017; Member, Greenwich Board of Health, 1992-2000, Chairman 1996-1998; Member, Greenwich Republican Town Committee 1993-2002, Chairman 1998-2002; Member, Republican Round Table of Greenwich, 1998-Present; Member, The Innis Arden Golf Club, 1994-Present, Board of Governors 2005-2007. Practice areas: Real Estate; Probate; Estate Planning; Wills; Trusts and Estates.

Keith Bradoc Gallant, Day Pitney LLP, New Haven

Keith Bradoc “Brad” Gallant advises families in all aspects of trust administration and estate planning, including disabilities planning and special needs trusts as well as planning. He guides clients through often complicated and sensitive personal situations, such as medical and end-of-life decision-making, long-term care issues, conservatorships, commitments and guardianships, as well as planning for same sex couples and their families. 

Brad has litigated a wide range of matters in probate and appellate courts, including lost wills, paternity disputes, will and trust constructions, charitable trust deviations, contested conservatorships, accountings and undue influence cases. He has appeared on behalf of clients in virtually all Connecticut probate courts, as well as in numerous Connecticut and federal trial and appellate courts. Brad was lead counsel for the amicus curiae in the landmark Connecticut Supreme Court case, Department of Social Services v. Saunders. He is consulted regularly by trial counsel and testifies as an expert in trusts and estates disputes, dissolution of marriage actions and disabilities litigation. He also has extensive experience in alternative dispute resolution of probate controversies.

Brad has spoken on special needs trusts, long-term care insurance, probate litigation, the disposition of interests in trusts incident to divorce and ethical issues in estate planning at seminars throughout the U.S., including the annual meetings of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the American Bar Association, as well as at seminars sponsored by ALI-ABA, NYU Institute of Federal Taxation, the Connecticut Probate Assembly, the Federal Tax Institute of New England and other groups. Brad has been quoted in Forbes, Connecticut Law Tribune and The New York Times.

Brad lives in New Haven with his wife, Professor Joanna Waley-Cohen, their children, Isabel and Kit, and a beagle, Samantha. Brad is a former President of the Connecticut Bar Association and now serves on the CBA Standing Committee on Professional Ethics. He also served four terms as President of the Board of the New Haven Free Public Library. 

Heather J. Lange, Brody Wilkinson PC, Southport

Heather J. Lange is a principal of Brody Wilkinson and is a member of the firm’s Trusts & Estates and Dispute Resolution Groups. Ms. Lange practices in the areas of estate planning, trust and estate administration, estate settlement, and probate, trust and fiduciary litigation. She represents high net worth individuals and family groups with the preparation of sophisticated wills, revocable trusts, private foundations and charitable trusts and when necessary, litigates probate proceedings. In addition, Ms. Lange has developed a niche practice in equine law where she bridges her legal capabilities and equestrian interests.

Prior to joining the firm, she most recently practiced at the Stamford-based law firm of Cummings & Lockwood. She also worked at the law firms of Taylor Ganson & Perrin, LLP and Bingham McCutchen LLP in Boston, and Dechert LLP in Philadelphia.

Ms. Lange is admitted to practice in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. She is a member of the American, Connecticut and Fairfield County Bar Associations. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Probate Section of the Connecticut Bar Association. Ms. Lange was recognized by “Connecticut Super Lawyers” as a “Rising Star” in the areas of estate planning and probate; non-profit organizations; and tax from 2005 through 2008. She received her B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1988, J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law in 1997, and LL.M. in Taxation from New York University School of Law in 1999.

Ms. Lange serves on the Board of Directors of the Bridgeport YMCA, where she chairs the Strong Kids Campaign. She also volunteers at Pegasus Therapeutic Riding, a non-profit organization that provides equine-assisted activities and therapies to children and adults with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities.

Charles W. Pieterse, Whitman Breed Abbott & Morgan LLC, Greenwich 

Charlie is Co-chair of the Firm’s Litigation Department and leads the Firm’s Trust and Estate’s litigation group. Charlie has over 30 years of litigation experience with Whitman Breed and its predecessor firms, including five years with Whitman Breed’s former Manhattan office. Charlie has represented clients before state and federal trial and appellate courts, probate courts and administrative bodies in a broad range of matters, including trusts and estate litigation, complex business and commercial litigation, and commercial lending litigation.

Charlie’s trusts and estate litigation experience includes representation of corporate and individual trustees, executors, beneficiaries, conservators, guardians and attorneys-in-fact, and service as a guardian ad litem or court-appointed attorney, in disputes involving all aspects of probate and trust and estate litigation, including breach of fiduciary duty claims, trustee surcharge and removal proceedings, contested accountings, will and trust contests, construction and decanting proceedings, conservatorship and guardianship proceedings and contested lifetime transfers.


CLE Credit: 1.0 Hours (CT: 1.0 General; NY: 1.0 AOP)