The Practice

Located in Portland, Oregon, Cartwright Baer Johansson PC focuses on litigation regarding estates, trusts, guardianships, conservatorships, and elder financial abuse matters.


Representative Litigation

January, 2017: Clackamas County Probate Court
The firm represented the daughter of a decedent regarding the determination of the identity of the person who was the beneficiary of decedent's trust, the daughter or her uncle. After a brief trial, the Court determined that the daughter was the only beneficiary of the trust, and quieted title in the daughter to 22-acres held in the trust.


January, 2017: Washington County Probate Court
The firm represented an elderly gentleman who had to leave his long-term wife and residence after Adult Protective Services determined he was being neglected by his wife. His wife refused to join him in his new residence with his daughter despite being invited to do so. His wife disinherited him and subsequently died. The client was left with nothing but debt that his wife had incurred. The firm filed and successfully prosecuted a Petition for Elective Share resulting in the Court, after hearing, awarding the client his one-third interest in his wife's augmented estate.


January, 2017; Clackamas County Probate Court
The firm represented a professional fiduciary who sought appointment as guardian and conservator for an elderly woman at the request of Adult Protective Services who had concerns she was being financially exploited and neglected by a family member ostensibly responsible for her care. The professional fiduciary was appointed guardian and conservator on an emergency basis. After a contested hearing the professional fiduciary was appointed guardian and conservator for an indefinite period.


2016: Multnomah County Probate Court
The firm represented the daughter of an elderly demented woman whose other children sought to place her in residential care. The firm petitioned to have our client appointed to be guardian of her mother to ensure she could remain in her home as long as possible. After a contested hearing our client was appointed guardian for her mother.


2016: Clackamas County Probate Court
The firm represented a professional fiduciary who had been contacted by Adult Protective Services to assist in obtaining guardianship and conservatorship for a cognitively impaired elderly gentleman who was being medically neglected and financially exploited by caregivers. The firm was successful in obtaining elder abuse prevention act restraining orders against the caregivers which removed them from his residence so he could safely return home. The firm was also successful in obtaining an emergency guardianship and conservatorship and indefinite guardianship and conservatorship to ensure his ongoing care needs were met and his finances protected.


2016: Clackamas County Probate Court
The firm represented a family member in seeking the appointment of a professional fiduciary as guardian and conservator for a disabled elderly family member whose neighbors financially exploited him, prevented family from having contact with him, and neglected his medical needs. The firm worked with Adult Protective Services, family, and a professional fiduciary to achieve this goal. After a contested hearing the professional fiduciary was appointed guardian and conservator, the family can visit with their relative without interference, and law enforcement is investigating the conduct of the neighbors.


June, 2016: Multnomah County Probate Court
The firm represented the spouse of a decedent regarding the breach of a contract to make a Will. Decedent's spouse executed certain documents in exchange for his promise that she would receive all of decedent's estate. A few months prior to decedent's death, he executed a Will inconsistent with this agreement. The trial court concluded on summary judgment that the parties had a valid and enforceable contract to make a will and imposed a constructive trust over all of the assets of the estate for her benefit.


June, 2016: Marion County Probate Court
The firm represented the heir of an estate that had previously been improperly probated as a small estate by another heir. The firm re-opened the estate and successfully petitioned for the client to be appointed as personal representative. An action was then commenced against the other heir, who had wrongfully taken possession of a residence owned by the decedent. The firm sought ejectment of the other heir from the premises. After a one-day trial, the Court ordered that the other heir be ejected from the property.


June, 2016: Multnomah County Probate Court
The firm represented the daughter of an incapacitated woman who had deeded property to her son in exchange for $1. The daughter was appointed as temporary conservator for her mother, and the firm brought an action against the son seeking to compel the return the property to the mother. The parties, through counsel, reached a settlement which required the son to move out of the residence and deliver possession back to the mother. Shortly thereafter the son fired his attorney and refused to uphold the settlement. The firm then filed an action seeking specific enforcement of the settlement agreement against the son. The Court found in favor of the daughter, and the house was returned to the possession of the mother.


April, 2016: Marion County Probate Court
The firm served as co-counsel for the personal representative of an estate in an elder financial abuse case in which the estate was the plaintiff. The decedent had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's dementia at the end of her life. Following her diagnosis the defendant (a daughter of the decedent) had systematically placed her name on decedent's bank accounts and used a Power of Attorney to transfer funds from decedent's accounts into her own. The Court found in favor of the personal representative on both claims of elder financial abuse and breach of fiduciary duty. The defendant was ordered to pay treble economic damages.


November, 2015: Clackamas County Probate Court
The firm represented the daughter of a protected person in a guardianship and conservatorship matter. Her brother was the designated health care representative for their mother pursuant to an advance directive. He had agreed to resign upon the appointment of a professional fiduciary. The brother subsequently refused to resign per the prior agreement and interfered with the professional guardian's ability to do her job. We sought enforcement of the agreement which would allow the guardian to do her job. The Court found in the daughter's favor and the settlement was enforced.


August, 2015: Clackamas County Probate Department
The firm represented the plaintiff in an action to remedy a breach of oral contract to make a will. The decedent had agreed to leave her estate to the son of the plaintiff in exchange for plaintiff making cash payments to decedent. In reliance on that promise, the plaintiff made these payments. However, shortly before she died the decedent changed her will to benefit other people in breach of her agreement. Unfortunately Oregon law prohibits the enforcement of oral — as opposed to written — contracts to make wills. The firm filed any action against the estate to compel the restitution to plaintiff of all of the payments she had made to the decedent.


May, 2015: Yamhill County Probate Court
The firm represented the successor trustee of a trust against the former trustee. The former trustee had kept trust money in accounts held in his sole name while acting as a fiduciary of the trust. The firm filed a breach of fiduciary duty suit, and prevailed at trial.


May, 2015: Multnomah County Probate Department
The firm represented the children of the decedent in contesting the Last Will of their father, the decedent. In his last year of life, the decedent had married his caregiver, who then neglected his health needs. He signed a Last Will leaving her his entire estate. The firm contested this Will as having been signed under the undue influence of his wife and at a time when he lacked the capacity to execute such a document. The Court found in favor of his children, the Last Will was invalidated and his estate was administrated and distributed as though he had died without any Last Will.


Representative Litigation (cont.)

October, 2014: Oregon Court of Appeals
The firm defended the personal representative of an estate with regard to the liquidation of the estate's mineral rights and the personal representative's final accounting. The personal representative proposed an auction for the entirety of the mineral rights and properly disclosed the auction procedure to the estate's beneficiaries and creditors. One of the estate's creditors participated in and won the auction, which the trial court subsequently approved the sale without any objections raised by the beneficiaries or creditors of the estate. However, when the personal representative filed its final accounting to close the estate several months later, one of the beneficiaries objected on the grounds alleging that the auction process was defective, the personal representative colluded with one of the estate's creditors to sell the mineral rights, and that the personal representative's fee was excessive. The trial court concluded that the beneficiary's objections to the auction process were untimely, that no collusion occurred between the personal representative and the creditor, and that the personal representative's fee was proper and reasonable. In October 2014, the Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment.


August, 2014: Private Arbitration
The firm defended the trustee of a family trust with regard to disputes over his administration of the trust. The firm reconstructed over five and a half years of trust administration to prepare a retroactive trust report for that period, and advised the trustee to disclose all outstanding issues for arbitration within the report. Based on this comprehensive trust report, the parties were able to agree on resolving many of these issues and to avoid litigating them at arbitration. However, the trust beneficiaries maintained objections on several issues, including the position that all the trustee's attorney fees related to Trust's administration be paid by him personally. After a one-day arbitration, the arbitrator largely adopted the firm's recommendations on the remaining issues and authorized all of the trustee's attorney fees and expenses to be paid from the trust.


August, 2014: Oregon Court of Appeals
The firm defended a guardian of a protected person in a petition filed by the Long Term Care Ombudsman to compel the disclosure of the address for the protected person's new care facility. The guardian refused to disclose that information based on the opinion of a court-appointed visitor, who determined that the LTCO's past involvement and interactions with the protected person had caused the protected person significant stress and expense. The trial court found that disclosure would be contrary to the protected person's interest, and therefore the guardian could not be compelled to disclose that information to the LTCO. The Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the guardian's statutory duty to preserve and protect the well-being of the protected person superseded the LTCO's statutory duties to investigate and report complaints related to long-term care.


August, 2014: Washington County Circuit Court
The firm represented one of decedent's two adult sons in a will contest. In 2012, the decedent was woken up in the middle of the night to execute a new will provided by her other son. The decedent's prior will equally divided the decedent's estate among the two sons, while the terms of the new will gave almost all of the estate to the other son's two daughter, excluding our client and his children from most of the estate. Six hours after she executed the will, the decedent was taken to the hospital, suffering from delirium caused by several medical conditions, and died five days later. We challenged the will's validity on the basis that the decedent lacked testamentary capacity and that it was the product of undue influence caused by her other son and her two granddaughters, one of which was now serving as personal representative. After a three-day trial with legal and expert medical testimony, we prevailed and the will was set aside.

August, 2014: Multnomah County Circuit Court
The firm represented the beneficiaries of a trust regarding a fee dispute with the co-trustees of said trust. The beneficiaries prevailed, and the trustees were required to return all fees received for the three years at issue.


August, 2013: Multnomah County Circuit Court
The firm represented decedent's two adult children as beneficiaries of her revocable trust.Decedent had established the trust during her lifetime in the state of Hawai'i, and had funded and administered it there until her death. Her successor trustees subsequently commenced a proceeding in Multnomah County requesting an order confirming that Oregon was now the principal place of administration of the trust, and for certain instructions which were against the interests of the two beneficiaries. Since the co-trustees had submitted to the jurisdiction of the Oregon court, we responded by seeking the removal of the co-trustees pursuant to Oregon's procedural statutes. We established that removal of the trustees best served the interests of all of the beneficiaries, and that removal was not inconsistent with any material purpose of the trust. After an evidentiary hearing, the co-trustees were removed and a successor trustee — a resident of the state of Hawai'i — was appointed. The removal of these co-trustees, together with the appointment of a successor trustee with whom the beneficiaries could effectively communicate, constituted a substantial benefit to our clients.


July, 2013: Multnomah County Circuit Court
The firm defended the trustee of a trust against a challenge to its validity. The contestant was the estranged only child of the decedent and she had been disinherited in at least six prior estate plans. We filed motions against the petition contesting the validity of the trust, which were granted on the basis that the estranged child could show no financial interest in the outcome of the litigation that she had filed, that her rights would not be affected even if the trust was set aside given that there were multiple earlier estate plans that also disinherited her, and that she therefore lacks standing to proceed with the litigation. The case was dismissed with prejudice.


July 2013, Clackamas County Circuit Court
The firm defended the personal representative of his mother's estate against a challenge to the validity of her last will. That will left her estate to her two children, including the personal representative. The contestant was the former boyfriend of the decedent, whom she had never married. We filed motions against the petition contesting the will, pointing out that the boyfriend had no financial interest in the outcome of the litigation. If the will had been set aside,the estate would have passed by intestate succession to the same two children. The court dismissed the petition to contest the will with prejudice.


November 2012: Washington County Circuit Court
The firm represented the personal representative of her mother's estate. Mother had put her son on the deed to her home for the purpose of avoiding probate. Mother died, and son moved into the house. He then contended that he was the owner of the property to the exclusion of the rest of the family. After a two-day trial, the trial court imposed a resulting trust over the property, and appointed our client as trustee to administer and distribute the property for the benefit of the entire family. The court also found that the son owed fair market rent for the time period of his occupancy.


November 2012: Washington County Circuit Court
The firm represented the personal representative of her mother's estate. Mother had put her son on the deed to her home for the purpose of avoiding probate. Mother died, and son moved into the house. He then contended that he was the owner of the property to the exclusion of the rest of the family. After a two-day trial, the trial court imposed a resulting trust over the property, and appointed our client as trustee to administer and distribute the property for the benefit of the entire family. The court also found that the son owed fair market rent for the time period of his occupancy. In June, 2015, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment in a written opinion.


July 2012: Yamhill County Probate Court
The firm represented decedent's two adult children. Decedent had signed a Will just two days before his death, and the children challenged the validity of the Will on the basis that he then lacked the requisite testamentary capacity. After a five-day trial with legal and medical testimony, we prevailed and the Will was set aside.