John Fitzpatrick
John Fitzpatrick



    As a faithful champion of his client’s interests in contested estates, John Fitzpatrick is widely known in Phoenix legal circles for his candid and thoughtful counsel.

    John Fitzpatrick is a senior partner with more than 35 years of legal experience in serving people and financial institutions in inheritance disputescommercial/business litigation and civil appellate advocacy.

    John is a Fellow of the prestigious American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) and Best Lawyers® 2023 “Lawyer of the Year” (Phoenix) in Trust and Estate Litigation.

    Best Lawyers® and Super Lawyers honoree and past chair (2018-2019) of the State Bar of Arizona’s Probate and Trust Section, John has a strong track record for achieving results for his clients. He has developed a solid reputation in probate and trust litigation, as well as in commercial litigation, for the high quality of his legal services, his well-considered counsel, his candor, honesty, and respectful demeanor, and his dedication to his clients. He offers a frank analysis of a client’s rights, obligations and prospects, as well as a clear understanding of the litigation process and an idea of the potential expense. He regularly encourages an economic analysis of all litigation decisions, including the most significant of those: the engagement of counsel. After all, not all probate disputes justify the often considerable expense of hiring a lawyer.

    In his estate, probate and trust litigation practice, John assists clients in resolving a vast array of controversies. Whether the issues relate to probate matters, trust- or fiduciary-related controversies, or contested guardianships and conservatorships, John is able to leverage his decades of trial experience, his broad base of legal knowledge, and the firm’s numerous strengths to provide his clients an exceptionally high level of service and sharply honed trial skills.

    John is experienced in all manner of estate-related controversies, including:

    • will contests and trust contests (including incapacity, undue influence, exploitation, duress, failure to read and understand challenges)
    • will and trust interpretation disputes
    • beneficiary rights
    • fiduciary rights
    • fiduciary duty and liability issues
    • fiduciary accounting
    • distribution issues
    • trust and trustee disputes
    • power of attorney and power of appointment controversies
    • financial exploitation, vulnerable adult issues and financial elder abuse claims
    • trust and probate administration
    • trustee, personal representative and fiduciary appointment, removal and priority disputes
    • controversies among or between beneficiaries, trustees, co-trustees, executors, personal representatives, guardians and conservators or other fiduciaries
    • intestate/intestacy and heirship matters
    • family allowance and exemption rights
    • omitted spouse disputes
    • forfeiture claims and defenses
    • joint account and beneficiary deed controversies
    • fee and surcharge disputes
    • disputes on behalf of or against children from prior marriages.

    Estate, probate and trust law often overlaps with other areas of the law. John has handled cases involving community property issues, commercial litigation and transactions, real estate, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, business succession and corporate control disputes, partnership and LLC matters, debtor-creditor controversies, family-owned or closely held business issues, validity and authenticity of written instrument disputes, breach of contract matters, foreclosure proceedings, constructive trust claims, real property title, succession, encumbrance, and lease issues, capacity to contract issues, agency issues, co-owner disputes (joint tenancy, co-tenancy and partition), negligence, misrepresentation, fraud and theft claims, annuity and custodial account disputes. He is also experienced in addressing life insurance disputes, death benefit, death beneficiary and pay-on-death (POD) issues and controversies, and other non-probate transfer, or “will substitute” matters.

    Honors & Awards

    • Fellow, The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC)
    • The Best Lawyers in America®: Lawyer of the Year (Phoenix), Litigation — Trusts and Estates, 2023
    • The Best Lawyers in America (Litigation—Trusts and Estates, Trust and Estates), 2018-present
    • Super Lawyers, 2015-present
    • AV Preeminent® Rating, Martindale-Hubbell®
    • “Top Lawyer” (Wills, Estates, Trusts), Phoenix Magazine, 2023
    • Az Business Leaders 2023 (Estate Planning & Probate Law), AZ Big Media
    John R. Fitzpatrick
    Rated by Super Lawyers

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    Bar & Court Admissions

    • Arizona, 1987
    • U.S. District Court, District of Arizona, 1987
    • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, 1987


    • J.D., University of Notre Dame, 1987
    • B.S., cum laude, Arizona State University, 1984

    Professional Memberships

    • State Bar of Arizona: Past Chair (2018-2019) and Executive Council Member (2014-2020), Probate and Trust Section
    • National Association of Elder Law Attorneys
    • Maricopa County Bar Association
    • Phi Alpha Delta
    • Horace Rumpole American Inn of Court

    Articles & Presentations

    • “Attorney-Client Privilege and the Duty of Confidentiality in Probate, Trust and Guardianship Matters,” State Bar of Arizona, May 2023
    • “A Decade of the Arizona Trust Code: What We Learned and What We Still Don’t Know” (co-presenter), State Bar of Arizona, May 2022
    • “Probate Court Off the Beaten Track, Vol. III,” State Bar of Arizona, Advanced Probate Seminar, May 2019
    • “The Blunt Truth: Top 10 Ways to Have Your Clients’ Estate Plan Litigated” (co-presenter), State Bar of Arizona, Probate and Trust Section, January 2019
    • “Advanced Issues in Probate and Estate Planning” (co-presenter), State Bar of Arizona, Advanced Probate Seminar, May 2018
    • “Probate Court Off the Beaten Track, Vol. II” (co-presenter), State Bar of Arizona, Advanced Probate Seminar, May 2018
    • “Probate Court Off the Beaten Track, Vol. I” (chair, moderator, co-presenter), State Bar of Arizona, Probate and Trust Section, November 2017
    • “Conflict Considerations in Estate Planning and Trust & Estate Administration and Litigation” (Chair/Faculty), State Bar of Arizona Annual Convention, June 2016
    • “Determining and Implementing Testator/Grantor Intent: Contracts to Make a Will, Constructive Trusts, Secret Trusts, and Oral Trusts” (co-presenter), Tucson Jewish Community Foundation, August 2015
    • The Extent of the Trustee’s Attorney-Client Privilege” (text), State Bar of Arizona, October 2014
    • “Probate Issues Confronting Trustees and Beneficiaries and New Developments with the Attorney-Client Privilege” (co-presenter), State Bar of Arizona, Probate and Trust Section, October 2014
    • “The Extent of the Trustee’s Attorney-Client Privilege,” Valley Estate Planners, September 2014
    • “Resolving Probate and Trust Disputes without Protracted Litigation” (moderator and co-presenter), State Bar of Arizona, CLE by the Sea, July 2014
    • “Basics of Elder Law A-Z: Financial Exploitation” (co-presenter), Law Review CLE, April 2013
    • “Divorce with Dead People: Probate Litigation” (co-presenter), Maricopa County Bar Association, February 2011