John D. Minton

Partner

Trust, Estate + Fiduciary Litigation

John concentrates his practice in estate, trust and fiduciary litigation. In the context of individual beneficiaries and fiduciaries, John represents petitioners and respondents in matters involving allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, trustee removal and surcharge, the validity of testamentary documents, prosecuting and defending against claims of financial abuse, disputes concerning the characterization and distribution of trust and estate property, and the settlement of fiduciary accounting controversies.

John also counsels corporate and professional fiduciaries in acrimonious beneficiary and co-trustee relationships, trust interpretation issues, fiduciary liability assessment, and settlement implementation. John’s breadth of experience is especially valuable from the perspective of institutional fiduciaries seeking to minimize liability and accurately administer complex trust arrangements.

Prior to focusing his practice in estate, trust and fiduciary litigation, John represented both plaintiffs and defendants across a range of business litigation matters. He favorably resolved disputes concerning trade secrets and trademarks, unfair competition, fraud, breach of contract, and corporate dissolution, among many others. He has represented individuals and businesses in numerous industries including technology, real estate and financial, and worked with companies across the growth spectrum from startups to Fortune 500 businesses.

After graduating from law school, John served as a federal court law clerk in San Francisco for the Honorable Martin J. Jenkins of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Thereafter, John spent five years at the international law firm of Latham & Watkins LLP, where he litigated intellectual property and business disputes. Prior to co-founding Anderson Yazdi in 2014, John practiced trust and estate litigation for six years at the Burlingame firm of Carr, McClellan, Ingersoll, Thompson & Horn. In 2014 and 2015, John was selected as one Northern California’s “Super Lawyers” for his work in Trust and Estate Litigation, an honor bestowed on only the top 5% of practicing attorneys in Northern California.

Recent Experience

  • Prevailed at two-week trial in seven-figure undue influence and financial elder abuse case; probate judge invalidated deed that transferred elder’s home to relative and awarded double damages against relative for transfers made from elder’s bank accounts. (San Mateo County Superior Court)
  • Secured victory at trial on behalf of petitioners seeking to invalidate trust amendment obtained by undue influence; trial judge voided trust amendment and awarded attorneys’ fees to clients. (Napa County Superior Court)
  • Successfully defended trust instrument against attack on grounds of undue influence and incapacity; following trial, judge rejected petitioner’s challenges. (San Mateo County Superior Court)
  • Secured high-six figure settlement on behalf of children in case alleging deceased father’s second wife manipulated dying father into signing trust amendment disinheriting children. (Santa Cruz County Superior Court)
  • Successfully defended trustee against breach of fiduciary duty and trustee removal claims brought by trust beneficiary; after year of litigation, petitioner dismissed case in exchange for payment amounting to less than 10% of claimed damages. (San Francisco Superior Court)
  • Secured removal of executor on behalf of estate beneficiary clients based on showing of executor’s failure to discharge duties, stonewalling beneficiaries in their requests for information, and selling estate assets without notice to beneficiaries. (San Mateo County Superior Court)
  • Successfully defended trustee against breach of fiduciary duty and accounting claims brought by trust beneficiary; settlement reached after six days of trial with plaintiff accepting in settlement 12% of claimed damages. (Contra Costa County Superior Court)
  • Obtained court order suspending trustee’s powers and appointing client as trustee following proof of initial trustee’s hostile conduct toward trust beneficiaries, use of trust assets for trustee’s own benefit, and failure to report information or provide accounting. (Santa Clara County Superior Court)
  • Successfully defended trustee against sibling’s claim that deceased father had breached contract to make a will benefiting sibling; on eve of trial, brother dismissed case with no payment beyond that to which he was already entitled under trust. (Santa Clara County Superior Court)
  • Preserved client’s father’s estate plan against “pre-death trust contest” brought by client’s sibling. (Santa Clara County Superior Court)
  • Invalidated trust amendment signed by incompetent elder; trial court authorized payment of client’s attorneys’ fees out of trust. (Santa Clara Superior Court)
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      Areas of Expertise

      • Fiduciary dispute issues
      • Fiduciary liability assessment and minimization
      • Trustee removal and surcharge actions
      • Trust and will challenges (undue influence, lack of mental capacity, etc.)
      • Financial abuse
      • Trust interpretation controversies
      • Trust accounting issues

       
      Academic Credentials

      • J.D., cum laude, University of California, Hastings College of the Law, 2002
        Senior Editor, Hastings Law Journal
      • B.A., Law and Society, with high honors, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1997

       
      Recent Speaking Engagements

      • Private Judge Trials in Trust and Estate Litigation, Bar Association of San Francisco, Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Section (November 3, 2015).
      • Private Judge Trials in Trust and Estate Litigation, East Bay Trust and Estate Lawyers (EBTEL) (April 15, 2015).
      • Finding Deep Water: Surveying the Shoals at the Crossroads of Estate Planning and Trust + Estate Litigation, San Francisco Estate Planning Council (January 15, 2014).
      • Is It Open Season on Wills and Trusts? Advising Clients and Minimizing Litigation Under the New No Contest Statutory Regime. San Mateo County Bar Association, Estate Planning Probate Section (July 12, 2012).

       
      Professional Organizations

      • State Bar of California | Trusts and Estates Section
      • San Mateo County Bar Association | Estate Planning Probate Section
      • Silicon Valley Bar Association

       
      Civic and Charitable

      • Parks and Recreation Foundation of San Carlos | Vice President & Board Member