Keith Staubus is a 1983 graduate of Southern Methodist University Law School. He has dedicated his practice for the past 37 years to probate, guardianship and trust litigation, as well as to the probate of wills and estate administration. His knowledge, experience and the ability to produce results has earned him the selection by his peers as a Thomson Reuters Texas Super Lawyer, a recognition given to less than five percent of all Texas lawyers as featured in both Texas Monthly and Texas Super Lawyers magazines in 2005, and 2009-2021. He has also been rated by the premier legal rating service, Martindale-Hubbell, as an “AV” preeminent rated attorney, the highest rating available achieved by a small percentage of Texas lawyers.
Keith was selected to serve as the Chair of the Probate, Trust and Estate Section of the Dallas Bar Association, has served as a guardianship mentor to other attorneys in the Dallas Bar Volunteer Attorney program, has spoken on probate, guardianship, and trust issues for the State Bar of Texas, Dallas Bar Association, and other local Texas Bar Associations. He also assisted in revising the Dallas Bar Probate Section’s forms manual for attorneys.
He began his career with a larger Dallas law firm offering a broad civil practice, and rose to the level of partner in less than 5 years. Although his practice has always been heavily concentrated in the probate court, he gained valuable trial experience in the firm’s litigation department, including business and commercial litigation, bank litigation, and litigation in family district court. He left this firm in 1992 to form a probate boutique practice, and has practiced exclusively in the probate boutique setting since that time. This broad litigation experience equips him to handle any lawsuit in the probate court, or estate or trust-related litigation in the county or district court.
Keith recognized the need for a probate litigation boutique firm to effectively handle lawsuits in the probate court. “Probate, guardianship and trust litigation involves a unique and technical area of the law, requiring a depth of knowledge and experience that can only be developed from years of trying these cases in the probate court.” He also believes strongly in the team approach to estate litigation. “Litigation in probate court is furiously emotional, high stakes litigation which requires the fire power of a team of highly-trained and knowledgeable probate litigators.”
His probate litigation practice includes prosecuting and defending will contests. He has spoken a number of times to Bar Associations concerning will contests, including the Texas State Bar’s 2010 Advanced Estate Planning and Probate Course, speaking on “Undue Influence and Lack of Capacity: How Much Evidence is Enough?” A copy of the paper can be viewed here About Undue Influence and Lack of Capacity: How Much Evidence is Enough?.
Keith also handles fiduciary litigation including actions to remove or defend from removal executors and administrators, suits for accountings and for distribution of assets, and suits for breach of fiduciary duty. Other related probate litigation includes litigation over the characterization of community property, suits challenging right-of-survivorship, annuity and life insurance beneficiary designations, and creditor’s claims. He has litigated heirship disputes, including claims of common law marriage, and heirship claims by illegitimate children.
His guardianship practice includes applying for and defending against guardianship applications, pursuit of actions arising out of elder abuse, financial exploitation, and the misuse of powers of attorney, actions to remove and/or defend from removal of guardians, and the representation of guardians in a wide variety of lawsuits. He is certified by the State Bar of Texas to serve as an attorney ad litem.
His trust litigation practice includes risk management advice to both individual and corporate trustees, actions to pursue modifications or terminations of trusts, suits regarding the validity and interpretation of trusts, and the representation of trustees and beneficiaries in fiduciary litigation actions for accountings, breaches of fiduciary duty, trustee removal actions, suits concerning distribution and investment issues, and suits ancillary to pending district court actions.
Keith has substantial experience in litigation concerning limited partnerships, limited liability companies, and other closely held businesses arising out of family disputes and trust disputes.
He also has substantial experience in probating wills, and in administering solvent and insolvent estates as both a court-appointed administrator, as well as representing executors and administrators. He has been appointed on a number of occasions by statutory probate Judges to pursue litigation on behalf of pending estates.
He has also served as an expert witness in litigation involving trusts, estate issues, and guardianships.