With an intense focus on estate, trust and guardianship litigation, J. Ellen Bennett brings clarity and understanding to the often confusing and complex legal process. She guides personal representatives, trustees, beneficiaries, fiduciaries and guardians through the administration process so they understand the unique nature of Texas probate law. Through settlement or trial, she represents her clients with expertise, integrity and determination. Her successful experience includes will contests and interpretations, guardianship disputes, trust disputes and modifications, accounting challenges, and suing and defending on breach of fiduciary duty claims. As each client’s case and its aspects are different, Ellen crafts a unique strategy for each one, giving her clients the best opportunity for a successful resolution and closure.

EDUCATION

  • B.A., University of North Texas
  • J.D., University of Missouri Law School

REPRESENTATIVE EXPERIENCE

  • Successfully defended trial court judgment on appeal brought by purported heir of a decedent
  • Obtained successful judgment for trust beneficiary in contested trust modification
  • Recovered substantial settlement in case against guardian of the estate removed for breached fiduciary duty
  • Obtained summary judgment defeating claims of purported surviving spouse
  • Defeated claims of caregiver who purported to marry and who exploited elderly incapacitated person
  • Achieved positive settlements in representing beneficiaries of estates in cases against bad-acting executors and administrators
  • Successfully defended proposed ward against allegations of incapacity in a permanent guardianship proceeding
  • Defeated unsuitable applicant who sought guardianship of alleged incapacitated elderly person
  • Represents executors, trustees, administrators, and guardians in all phases of estate and trust administration
  • Represents beneficiaries and heirs of estates to protect inheritance rights
  • Routinely serves as attorney ad litem and guardian ad litem in guardianship cases
  • Routinely serves as temporary guardian and guardian in guardianship cases and as temporary administrator and administrator in decedents’ estates

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP

  • Board Certified Estate Planning and Probate Law – Texas Board of Legal Specialization
  • Named Rising Star by Texas Super Lawyers,  a Thompson Reuters service (2014-2019)
  • Selected Rising Stars Top 100 Up & Coming Attorneys in Texas, a Thompson Reuters service (2018)

Community and Bar Association Involvement

  • Texas Board of Legal Specialization: Board-certified, Estate Planning and Probate
  • Dallas Bar Association, Probate and Trust section, Trial Skills Section
  • Dallas Women Lawyers’ Association
  • College of the State Bar of Texas
  • Attorneys Serving the Community
  • Rising Star, Texas Super Lawyers, a Thompson Reuters service (2016-2019)

Public Speaking & Publications

  • Co-Author: “You Settled it Right? Family Settlement Agreements in Probate, Trust and Guardianship Disputes” – Texas Tech Estate Planning and Community Property Law Journal,  11 Est. Plan. & Community Prop. L.J. 213 (Spring 2019)
  • Co-Author: “You Settled It, Right? Family Settlement Agreements in Probate, Trust and Guardianship Disputes” – North Texas Probate Bench Bar (2019)
  • Presented on Pitfalls of Will and Power of Attorney Drafting, Dallas Bar Association Volunteer Attorney Program (2018)
  • Co-authored: “What’s New in Guardianship” – Advanced Guardianship Law Course, State Bar of Texas (2017)
  • Co-authored and presented: “The Roles of the Applicant, Ward and Attorney Ad Litem” to Dallas Bar Association, Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program (May 2016)
  • Co-authored: “Trends in Litigating and Administering Guardianship,” – Dallas Bar Association Probate and Estate Section (March 2016)
  • Co-presented: “Planning to Avoid Power of Attorney Litigation,” – UT CLE, Galveston, Texas (August 2013)
  • Co-authored and presented: “Planning to Avoid Power of Attorney Litigation, Texas Trust School” (July 2013)
  • Co-authored and presented: “Ins and Outs of Attorney’s Fees in Four Metropolitan Counties,” Collin County Probate Bar Association and Denton County Probate Bar Association (2013)
  • Co-authored: “Attorney’s Fees in Dallas County Probate Courts,” Dallas Bar Association, Headnotes (April 2012 issue)
  • Co-authored: “When There’s No Will, Is There a Way?” Dallas Bar Association, Headnotes (January 2011 issue)
  • Co-authored: “Responsibilities of a Guardian,” State Bar of Texas Guardianship Certification Course, DVAP, Dallas, Texas (May 2010)
  • “Mentoring and Pro Bono Experiences,” Summer Associates Luncheon – Dallas Bar Association (June 2010).
  • Co-authored: “Select ad Litem Issues in Probate Litigation,” Tarrant County Probate Litigation Seminar, Fort Worth, Texas (September 2010)