I am an experienced general practice attorney serving Pima County and the Greater Tucson Metropolitan Area. My law practice focuses on elder law, estate planning and probate litigation.
AREAS OF PRACTICE
Planning Ahead for Incapacity
As we age, our ability to receive and evaluate information and communicate decisions may become impaired by organic decline, physical ailment or mental illness. Sometimes an accident, head injury or stroke can leave a person in a mental state that renders them unable to make decisions in a logical and intelligent manner. If this occurs, and one does not have in place a legal agent or decision maker, their estate and physical health can waste from self-neglect or third-party exploitation.
With no decision maker in place, well meaning family members, hospitals and government organizations are often left with no choice but to file a guardianship or other protective proceeding before the Superior Court.
I assist clients with the drafting of a variety of legal documents that can obviate the need for judicial intervention or in some circumstances direct any such assistance in a way the client deems fit. These documents include durable powers of attorney, living wills, age-in-place plans, and trusts.
Guardianship & Protective Proceedings
As we age, a person's ability to evaluate information and communicate decisions may become impaired by organic decline, infirmity, mental illness or accident. When that person does not have an agent nominated by a durable power of attorney or when that agent is not effectively doing their job, it may become necessary to seek the court appointment of a guardian or conservator to protect both the physical well-being and financial estate of the incapacitated adult.
I can assist family members, agents and fiduciaries in all aspects of guardianship and conservatorship proceedings.
Probate is the judicial process required to transfer assets after the death of an individual to his or her devisees, beneficiaries or heirs. Whether informal or formal probate is required, or whether assets can be transferred by affidavit, I work to guide the personal representative through the applicable process expeditiously with a focus on retaining as much value as possible for those entitled to distributions.
Estate administration burdens the administrator, whether an executor or trustee with broad and sweeping duties that present as both an enormous responsibility and a potential liability. Legal assistance can help the administrator navigate the common pit falls inherent to any estate and ensure that the assets are fully administered timely, prudently and with a minimum of expense. In some instances, legal help may be necessary to resolve outstanding or troubling issues. I have the knowledge and experience to deal effectively with any situation which may arise, including complex accounts, complaints levied against the administrator, unjust claims, third-party suits, prior or wrongful distributions, liquidation, liens, questionable heirship claims, asset recovery, and will contests.
I can assist the executor or trustee in carrying out their duties in a cost-effective manner, including opening the estate, determining succession, marshaling and managing assets, recovering debts, disputing and settling claims, liquidating assets, preparing inventories and accounts, finalizing tax issues, making distributions, and in some cases transferring assets by affidavit.
It is not uncommon for a beneficiary of an estate to question or attack the actions of a trustee, agent or executor whether those actions were wrongful or not. Sometimes family members, significant others and friends feel they were wrongfully excluded. Sometimes, they attack a will or a trust believing that they will inherit more through statutory succession. In some cases, they believe a will or trust was executed under duress or that the decedent was unduly influenced. Sometimes a will is contested based upon allegations that the decedent lacked the capacity to execute the will, was vulnerable or confused at the time of execution or that the documents were forged.
I have litigated almost every facet of a contested administration, whether a document caveat or a breach of fiduciary duty claim, I have the experience to assist my client in fully litigating most contested issues.
Adult Custody Disputes
Sadly, it is not uncommon for the adult children of an incapacitated adult, legal fiduciaries, friends and other family members to disagree where and with whom that adult will live, what the best course of care should be, who should make decisions and often what efforts, if any, should be made to artificially prolong life. The core of these disagreements often stem from sibling rivalry, personality conflicts, access to resources, notions of future inheritance, religious conflicts, separation complexes, and the like. These disputes often disregard the actual best interests of the incapacitated adult and focus on the wants and needs of someone else.
I have been involved in dozens of these cases and have the experience necessary to advise my client on the reasonable course of action and when necessary, fully litigate best interest issues before the Superior Court.
Eli J. Guiterman lives in Oro Valley, Arizona. His practice includes elder law, estate planning, guardianships, protective proceedings, estate administration, contested probate proceedings and probate litigation.
Eli grew up in the State of New Hampshire and obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of New Hampshire in 1998. Eli graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 2002 with both a juris doctor and a certificate in civil litigation. During law school, Eli served as a student lawyer with the University of Pittsburgh Elder Law Clinic where he provided free legal services to low-income seniors focusing on advance planning for incapacity, estate planning, guardianship proceedings, long term care benefits, the settlement of small estates, and grand parenting issues. In 1999, Eli interned with New Hampshire Legal Assistance where he participated in the Senior Law Project assisting needy seniors with a variety of legal problems including abusive debt collection, financial exploitation, housing issues, public benefits and utility shut-offs.
Following law school, Eli was a founding partner of the boutique law firm Li, Latsey and Guiterman, PLLC in the District of Columbia. While in D.C., Eli was an active member of the Superior Court Probate Panel of Attorneys and practiced primarily as a fiduciary and a probate trial attorney. Eli appeared as counsel in over 300 cases before the Probate Division of the D.C. Superior Court representing litigants and fiduciaries. Eli has successfully defended and prosecuted claims, objections and caveats brought against subjects and fiduciaries as well as those brought against a variety of testamentary documents including wills and trust agreements. In addition, Eli has successfully briefed and argued before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and has appeared amicus curiae before the Special Proceedings Division of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
As a member of the D.C. Fiduciary Panel, Eli accepted in excess of 200 court appointments including: trustee of a minor; trustee of a supplemental needs trust; personal representative; special administrator; general guardian of an incapacitated adult; conservator of an incapacitated adult; special conservator; special fiduciary; emergency medical guardian; limited medical guardian; administrator de bonis non, guardian ad litem; visitor; and counsel to the subject of an intervention proceeding. Given his extensive experience as a fiduciary, Eli has been qualified as an expert witness in the area of fiduciary relations.
From 2015 to 2018, Eli served two terms as an elected member of the Steering Committee for the Estates, Trusts and Probate Section of the District of Columbia Bar. He was the co-author of the 2012 Intervention Proceedings chapter (Guardianship and Conservatorship proceedings) of the District of Columbia Bar Practice Manual and a contributing author and editor of the 2016 Estate Administration and Intervention chapters. In 2018, Eli received a Certificate of Appreciation for Extraordinary Contributions to the Practice of Law in Estates, Trusts and Probate Areas in the District of Columbia from the District of Columbia Bar Association. For his ongoing devotion to pro bono work, Eli received District of Columbia Bar Association Certificates of Appreciation for his contributions to the Superior Court Probate Division Self-Help Center for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. In recognition of his knowledge, skills and professionalism, Eli served as an appointed voting delegate at the District of Columbia Judicial Conferences in 2011, 2012, and 2017.
Eli is a member of the State Bar of Arizona (2019), the Pima County Bar Association (2019), the District of Columbia Bar Association (2004), the Bar Association of the District of Columbia (2004), the Superior Court of the District of Columbia Probate Division Fiduciary Panel of Attorneys (2005-2018), the New Hampshire Bar Association (2002) and the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire (2002).
This website and the information contained therein constitutes an attorney advertisement. This website and the information contained therein in no way constitutes legal advice. The Law Office of Eli J. Guiterman has provided the information contained on this website for information and educational purposes only. Nothing herein should be construed as offering legal advice, or creating an attorney client relationship between the reader and the author.