Trust and Estate Counsel

Paul Gontarek

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Paul Gontarek is a member of Howard Mobley Hayes & Gontarek, PLLC and concentrates his practice in the area of trust and estate litigation as well as probate and trust administration. His principal clients include financial institutions and fiduciaries (both corporate and individual), as well as families, individuals, charities or other entities that are beneficiaries of trusts and estates. He also represents families and individuals seeking to obtain conservatorships or guardianships over disabled individuals.  He also represents individuals, businesses and other organizations in commercial litigation disputes. Paul is listed in the Best Lawyers in America® (2013 - 2020) in the Litigation – Trust and Estates category.

Paul frequently lectures on trust and estate litigation and administration topics.  His trust and estate litigation experience includes the representation of families, individuals, charities and other entities in will contests; court actions to clarify, interpret or refine specific provisions of wills and trusts; requests to the court on behalf of trustees for instruction and direction; litigation to terminate or reorganize trust instruments; litigation to nullify lifetime transfers because of undue influence; elective share litigation; and litigation to settle distributive rights to beneficiaries in both trust and estate settings.

While at his former firm, Paul was part of a team of attorneys that successfully represented the State of Tennessee in its efforts to return the $100 million Maddox Foundation to Tennessee after its controversial move to Mississippi. The Maddox Foundation case involved litigation in trial and appellate courts in three states and garnered extensive media attention, including coverage in the New York Times.

Other representative cases in which Paul served as trial counsel:

  • State of Tennessee v. Maddox Foundation, 216 S.W. 3d 758 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2006)

  • In re Estate of Grass, 2008 WL 2343068, (Tenn. Ct. App. 2008)

  • In re Estate of Shults, 2008 Tenn. App. LEXIS 96 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2008)

  • In re Cannon Family Trust, 2012 Tenn. App. LEXIS 834 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2012)

  • Daugherty v. Doyle, 2014 Tenn. App. LEXIS 750 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2014)

  • In re Estate of Wair, 2014 Tenn. App. LEXIS 424 (Tenn. Ct. App.  2014)

  • Hanover Ins. Co. v. Clemmons, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135966 (Sept. 30, 2016)

  • In re Estate of Link, 2017 Tenn. App. LEXIS 673 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2017)

Practice Areas

  • Estate and Trust Litigation

  • Estate and Trust Administration

  • Fiduciary Compliance

  • Conservatorships and Guardianships

  • Commercial Litigation

Professional Activities

  • Chair, Probate Court Committee, Nashville Bar Association, 2008 to 2017

  • Member, Probate Court Committee, Tennessee Bar Association, 2007 to present

  • Member, Tennessee Bar Journal Editorial Board, 2010 to present

  • Member, Nashville and Tennessee Bar Associations

  • Graduate, Leadership Law Program of the Tennessee Bar Association, 2004

Professional Licenses

  • Tennessee

Representative Speaking Engagements

  • Nashville Bar Association, Estate Planning and Probate Institute, Recent Case Law Developments Pertaining to Estate Planning and Probate Practice (October 2019)

  • Nashville Bar Association, Estate Planning and Probate Institute, Recent Case Law Developments Pertaining to Estate Planning and Probate Practice (October 2018)

  • Nashville Bar Association, Estate Planning and Probate Institute, Recent Case Law Developments Pertaining to Estate Planning and Probate Practice (October 2017)

  • Tennessee Bankers Association, Fiduciary Liability Trends (October 2017)

  • Nashville Bar Association, Estate Planning and Probate Institute, Recent Case Law Developments Pertaining to Estate Planning and Probate Practice (October 2016)

  • Tennessee Bankers Association, Fiduciary Liability Trends (October 2015)

  • Nashville Bar Association, Estate Planning and Probate Institute, Recent Case Law Developments Pertaining to Estate Planning and Probate Practice (October 2015)

  • Nashville Bar Association, Estate Planning and Probate Institute, Recent Case Law Developments Pertaining to Estate Planning and Probate Practice (October 2014)

  • Financial Planning Association, Fiduciary Considerations and Responsibilities in the Administration of Estates and Trusts (July 2014)

  • Tennessee Federal Tax Conference, Nuts & Bolts of Fiduciary Compliance (November 2013)

Civic and Other Activities

  • Past President, Secretary, General Counsel and Executive Committee Member, Outlook Nashville

  • Former Board Member and Executive Committee Member, First Steps. Inc.

Education

  • J.D., Vanderbilt University, 1999

  • B.BA., Baylor University, 1996

Court Admissions

  • Tennessee State Courts

  • United States District Court for the Middle and Eastern Districts of Tennessee