Lynette Carrington 2013-09-19 00:51:32
Arizona Trial Lawyer With a Keen Eye for Legal Details In her practice, Helene Fenlon uses her litigation skills as a positive force in preserving family legacies. Those legacies include assets such as businesses and business values. She represents family members and corporate fiduciaries in helping them resolve conflicts that often arise in probate and trust matters. She also assists fiduciaries in managing the inherent risks of the fiduciary role. “I also help people who have elderly relatives who are in need of additional help when there is no power of attorney or when they need more, whether it be a conservatorship, or a guardianship,” stated Fenlon. Probation and trust litigation can encompass many different challenges. “It could be anything from contesting the validity of the will—the signature is fraudulent or it was procured through undue influence by one party who is favored in the document,” Fenlon said. “Or, the person didn’t have the capacity at the time they executed the will—so that it wasn’t a valid will, or it didn’t meet Arizona’s requirements for execution. The same is true for trusts; they’re just different planning tools.” She truly cares about her clients and wants to see their hard work and prosperity continue in to the future in the most beneficial ways possible. One of Fenlon’s other practice areas has become more publicized recently—the area of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. Litigation can take place while the adult is still living or after the adult has passed away. “Arizona has statutes in place protecting vulnerable adults,” noted Fenlon. “Basically, if you’re in a position of trust and confidence for a vulnerable adult, you can only use the assets for the benefit of that adult, unless the court approves the transaction or gifting is provided for in the planning instrument.” “Sometimes, in an attempt to assist families and save expenses, you have to go to court to modify a trust or enter into a family settlement agreement because there has been a change in circumstances. At times, it makes sense to ask the court for instructions on how to proceed,” Fenlon said. She also guides fiduciaries through the court accounting process to make sure they are complying with court rules and is available to assist the fiduciary in answering the court’s or the court accountant’s questions and in formulating responses. Fenlon has been practicing for 22 years and previously worked as a litigation associate and later a litigation partner at Gallagher & Kennedy, as well as a litigation associate at Jennings, Strouss & Salmon. When she first started practicing, she did trial work in the insurance defense area which prepared her well for the rigors of the discovery process. Later, she focused on commercial litigation, including fraud and breach of fiduciary claims. “Having an understanding of probate and trust law, combined with the experience of conducting complicated discovery, is a special skill I bring to the table that many people practicing in the probate and trust area do not have,” Fenlon explained. “Before I went to law school I was a bank examiner and also worked as a budget analyst,” Fenlon stated. “I understand not only how financial institutions operate, but also how to read financial statements, a skill many litigators do not have.” She does bring expert witnesses in when necessary, but it is a value to her clients that she possesses broad-based knowledge of many key issues in a case. Fenlon has assisted the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in different projects, including taking part in the inaugural Gold ‘n Gavel event that is designed to raise funds for scholarships and other initiatives at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, where Fenlon obtained her Juris Doctor. “I think bar service is an important aspect of what lawyers do and I highly recommend it to young lawyers” Fenlon explained. She has served on the board of directors and as president of the Scottsdale Bar Association, on the 2010 Judicial Performance Conference Team for the Supreme Court of Arizona and was a commissioner (2002-2009) for the Maricopa County Commission on Trial Court Appointments, among many other professional associations and memberships. As a solo practitioner with a niche focus, she often collaborates with other attorneys, particularly estate planners. She enjoys the camaraderie between lawyers and values the professional relationships she’s been able to construct. Fenlon appreciates the knowledge that can be shared between professionals and encourages attorneys to band together. Fenlon looks forward to continuing to serve her clients, her fellow attorneys and her community for years to come.
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