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A Better Partnership

Laura E. Morris

Partner | Email

  • Grand Rapids

    t. +1.616.752.2407

    f. +1.616.222.2407

Biography

Laura Morris is a trial attorney and mediator who specializes in probate court disputes involving trusts, estates, wills, powers of attorney, guardianships and conservatorships (adults and minors).  Laura has been recognized by Best Lawyers' as the 2021 and 2019 Grand Rapids Trusts and Estates Litigation Lawyer of the Year.  She is also passionate about problem solving. Her penchant for dispute resolution drew her to probate litigation and mediation, where she regularly finds herself in the middle of emotional family disagreements. “When representing a client, I try to put myself in my client’s shoes and move forward in a way that will result in the best outcome as efficiently as possible, while keeping in mind that family and emotions are involved. Maybe that’s a day in court or maybe that’s a settlement,” she says.

Industries

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Education

  • Wayne State University Law School J.D. 2006 cum laude
  • Michigan State University B.A. 2003

Admitted

  • 2006, Michigan

Courts

  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan in 2006
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan in 2011

Bar Associations

  • American Bar Association
    Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law
  • State Bar of Michigan
    Probate & Estate Planning Section
    Alternative Dispute Resolution Section
  • Grand Rapids Bar Association

Experience

Approved Civil Mediator:
  • 2014:  40-hour training approved by State Court Administration Office
  • 2016:  8-hour Advanced Mediator Training (ADR Section of State Bar of Michigan)
Probate Litigation: Laura has successfully represented clients on a broad array of disputes involving the elderly and inheritances, including:
  • Trust disputes
  • Will disputes
  • Power of attorney disputes
  • Life insurance disputes
  • Joint account disputes
  • Sibling disputes
  • Blended family disputes
  • Guardianship disputes
  • Conservatorship disputes
  • Trust/estate creditor issues
  • Seeking to remove a trustee or executor
  • Getting more information from a trustee or executor
  • Defending a trustee or executor
  • Protecting an elderly person from financial abuse
  • Obtaining judgments against a person who took advantage of elderly person
  • Challenges to a will or trust’s validity
  • Challenges to a property transfer’s validity
  • Forgery issues
  • Claims of mental incapacity (see video)
  • Claims of undue influence (see video)
  • Appointment of guardians (adult and children)
  • Appointment of conservator (adult and children)
  • Seeking to remove a guardian or conservator
  • Modifying an existing guardianship or conservatorship
  • Modifying a trust
  • Obtaining court clarification of a trust’s terms
  • Memorializing a family agreement

Honors & Awards

  • Named the Best Lawyers' 2021 and 2019 Grand Rapids Trusts and Estates Litigation Lawyer of the Year
  • Best Lawyers in America, Litigation - Trusts and Estates, 2018-Present
  • Named as a “Rising Star” for Estate & Trust Litigation by Michigan Super Lawyers Magazine, 2013-Present
  • Selected as one of the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s 40 Under Forty, 2020
  • Graduated with Honors—Michigan State University (member, Varsity Women’s Soccer team)
  • Graduated with Honors—Wayne State University Law School
  • Co-Editor-in-Chief, Moot Court—Wayne State University Law School
  • Legal Intern for the Honorable Avern Cohn, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

Publications

Leadership

Professional Affiliations

  • Women Lawyers Association of Michigan - WLAM Western Region, Board Member (2020)

Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker, “Amendments to Court Rules,” Grand Rapids Bar Association Probate Section (12/11/19)
  • Speaker, "Will and Trust Litigation," ICLE Handling Contested Probate Proceedings (10/26/17)
  • Speaker, “Not All Mental Capacity is Created Equal: The Various Civil Legal Standards,” Kent County Elder Abuse Coalition (3/21/17)
  • Speaker, “Drafting After In re Jajuga Estate,” ICLE Drafting Estate Planning Documents Seminar (1/19/17)
  • Speaker, “Drafting to Avoid Probate Litigation and Administration Challenges,” ICLE On-Demand Seminar (4/20/16)
  • Speaker, “Fiduciary Litigation Update 2015,” ICLE On-Demand Seminar (12/23/15)
  • Co-Presenter at Midwest Trust & Wealth Management Conference, Trust and Estate Case Law Update (10/6/15)
  • Presentation to Allegan County Council on Aging (Buildling Ties) regarding elder financial abuse (7/30/15)
  • Co-presenter at Grand Rapids Community Foundation on impact of U.S. Supreme Court Obergefell v. Hodges decision on LGBT issues (7/28/15)
  • "Fiduciary Representation: Are the Beneficiaries Your Client?," co-presented with Tina Babel, Strafford Webinar (5/26/15)
  • "Financial Elder Abuse," Aging Well Conference, May 21, 2015, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Presented 2014 to the West Michigan Estate Planning Council (3/26/15) and Greenleaf Trust (4/1/15)
  • Presented 2013 Trust & Estate Case Law Update to Chemical Bank, Comerica Bank, Fifth Third Bank, Waterway, Wilhelt, Worfel & Bronsink, Legacy Trust, and Huntington National Bank
  • Presented 2012 Trust & Estate Case Law Update to Chemical Bank and Legacy Trust
  • Presented 2011 Trust & Estate Case Law Update to Fifth Third Bank and Waterway, Wilhelt, Worfel & Bronsink
  • Presented 2010 Trust & Estate Case Law Update to Chemical Bank, Fifth Third Bank, Huntington National Bank, Northeastern Michigan Estate Planning Council and Macatawa Bank
  • Presented 2009 Trust & Estate Case Law Update to Chemical Bank, Fifth Third Bank, Founders Bank & Trust and Plante & Moran

Community Involvement

  • Leadership Grand Rapids, Class of 2018
  • Family Promise of Grand Rapids
    Board Member
  • Inforum, West Michigan Regional Council Member, 2017-Present
    Member (2015-Present)
    Executive Leadership, Class of 2015
  • Council on Aging of Kent County, Member
  • Kent County Elder Abuse Coalition, Member
  • West Michigan Spartans
    Board Member
    2015 Operations Lead, Steve Smith Charity Golf Challenge at Egypt Valley Country Club
    2013-2014, Co-Operations Lead, Steve Smith Charity Golf Challenge at Egypt Valley Country Club
  • West Michigan Estate Planning Council, Member
  • Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Emerging Leaders Series (Class of 2014)
  • Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Inside Grand Rapids (Spring 2012)
  • West Michigan Healthcare Network, Member

Testimonials

“[W]e achieved pretty much everything we could have hoped. And we did this largely because of your extraordinary skills. You were also a model counsellor for me throughout this process. Thank you so much!”  – T.L.

“I am extremely impressed by how you get maximum results with simple, incise action.  I will certainly be sharing that in my 5 star review.”  – M. P.

“Laura, I know I have told you before, but you were a life saver. Thanks again for everything you have done for our family.”  – S. L. 

"In short, Laura’s efforts changed my life.  For years, after my mother passed away, I had been embroiled in an intractable dispute with my brother who was impeding the settlement of her estate and distribution of her trust.  Laura’s advice and then legal actions brought my brother to the table and closure to this very difficult chapter of my life."  – A.R.

"I have had the pleasure of working with Ms. Laura Morris two times this year and she was always a consummate professional, extremely prepared, helpful and totally exceeded my expectations. I really had a great experience with Laura, she was extremely communicative and got back to me right away. She was also very kind and empathetic to my 86-year-old mother who was the client and that made the whole experience that much better. I feel she went above and beyond the call of duty to help us out during a very difficult time for my Mom. I couldn’t be any more impressed with Ms. Morris and I would recommend her to everyone. " – J.E.

"I appreciated Laura's willingness to listen to and answer all my questions (even questions and answers I was unaware of). She kept me informed of all progress and exceeded all my expectations. I would definitely recommend her services."  – M.B.

“Laura's legal representation exceeded my expectations.  I loved how cut and dry, to the point no frills approach. I feel she was honest and fair with me. The communication was great and timely. I would recommend her to everyone.” – D.K.
 
“I am writing to recommend Laura Morris, a partner at Warner Norcross & Judd LLP.  Recently the largest gift (exceeding six million dollars) to Ferris State University was challenged by the donor’s siblings . . . and the University needed someone with the requisite experience and skill to represent it in the litigation . . . in what turned out to be a particularly complex probate court dispute.  Having been a partner at a well-known and mid-sized law firm before coming to Ferris and having an opportunity to review the work of many excellent attorneys, Laura is in my opinion one of the very finest that I have worked with and observed. . . I highly recommend Ms. Morris without reservation.”  – Miles J. Postema, V.P. and General Counsel.  Click here to read letter.
 
“Thank you so much for all your hard work.   I truly appreciate your understanding and professionalism while helping me through this.” – J.R.
 
“Ms. Morris completely exceeded my expectations in handling my case. She buried the other side in case law and they withdrew their petition the next day. We did not have to go to court. The case was over and I won. This took less than 5 days from the first interview with Ms. Morris till it was over. She did a terrific job for me.” – B.H. 

“Laura is very knowledgeable, experienced, and trustworthy.  She continues to impress me when she has to correct (and train) other senior attorneys. Her negotiation skills have proven to be second to none, and with a few complicated issues she was able to achieve very good and satisfying results.  Laura Morris has become my go to, and very first choice for my legal representation needs.” – T.M.

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