Mr. Sleeth serves as the co-chair of the firm’s Estate and Trust Litigation practice group, a nationwide team focusing on disputes involving wills, trusts, guardianships, conservatorships, powers of attorney, and elder law matters. Having litigated over 100 estate disputes – ranging from local disputes in Williamsburg, Hampton Roads, and Richmond, to those all across Virginia, to complex multi-jurisdictional disputes throughout the nation involving estates valued at over $50 million – Mr. Sleeth knows the ins and outs of the complex legal and emotional issues that arise when individuals and families need legal counsel to deal with estate issues and elder law disputes. Mr. Sleeth handles some of the largest and highest-profile will and trust disputes in the area, and has litigated cases that have collectively totaled over approximately $300 million in assets. For years, Mr. Sleeth worked side by side with the late Paul Cullum, an internationally renowned estate litigator who authored one of the leading treatises on estate litigation.
Mr. Sleeth has litigated a wide array of will disputes, including bringing and defending against challenges to wills on the grounds of lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, fraud, and failure to comply with the proper formalities. He has also litigated cases involving will interpretation disputes. His cases often involve high net-worth individuals and families, and Mr. Sleeth’s experience has not only prepared him to aptly handle the legal issues involved in those cases, but also to proficiently handle the media and public relations issues that occasionally arise with such cases.
His trust litigation practice consists of bringing, and defending against, challenges to trustees regarding claims of breach of fiduciary duty, claims of violations of the Virginia Uniform Trust Code (including failure of the trustee to inform and report to the beneficiaries), and claims of violations of the Uniform Prudent Investor Act. His clients range from large institutional trust companies, to individual trustees, to charitable institutions that are trust beneficiaries (including foundations and educational institutions).
Mr. Sleeth has handled countless guardianship and conservatorship proceedings, including hotly contested proceedings, and proceedings relating to agents under a power of attorney misusing their authority. His experience provides him with the insight to handle matters ranging from routine uncontested guardianship and conservatorship proceedings, to vigorously contested proceedings involving disagreeable families and friends.
Additionally, Mr. Sleeth also represents individuals, families, and friends in situations involving elder law disputes and the exploitation of elderly persons. He has extensive experience with situations involving: people pressuring elderly people to change their wills or trusts or make gifts; mistreatment or exploitation of elderly people; and instances of “parent-napping” or “granny-napping.”
Community Association Representation (Homeowners Associations, Condominium Associations, and Developers)
Mr. Sleeth serves as counsel to many homeowners and condominium associations throughout Virginia, representing associations ranging in size from large-scale resort-centered communities with significant facilities, to smaller neighborhood associations. He has also represented local and large-scale national developers in the creation and establishment of complex master-planned residential, mixed-use, commercial, and "New Urbanism" communities throughout Virginia. He leads the Community Association practice group at the firm.
He assists community associations with their general legal needs, including document interpretation, document amendments (including amending and restating declarations of restrictive covenants), document enforcement, guiding associations through the process of transfer from developer-control, collections matters, contract review and drafting, fair housing issues, and regulatory compliance (including issues concerning the Common Interest Community Board). Mr. Sleeth has also litigated dozens of community association disputes, including several high-profile cases that received state-wide or national attention (including successfully defending a condominium association from a novel legal challenge to a bylaws amendment, and successfully trying to verdict a case upholding the validity of a special assessment).
A frequent speaker in the industry, Mr. Sleeth has been invited to speak at numerous conferences, tradeshows, and industry events put on by various chapters of CAI (the Community Associations Institute), as well as local governments.
Business and Contract Disputes
Mr. Sleeth represents businesses ranging from large multinational corporations to small, closely-held companies in a wide array of business and contract disputes, and has successfully tried multiple breach-of-contract claims to verdict. He is also experienced in litigating disputes between shareholders, as well as fraud, defamation, conspiracy, tortious interference, and other business-related claims.
Mr. Sleeth represents a variety of hotels, apartment complexes, real estate investment trusts, institutional investors, and small-business owners in premises liability claims. His motor vehicle tort practice consists of representing national trucking companies, bus companies, and insurers in a wide variety of motor vehicle tort actions in both state and federal court. Between his premises liability cases and automotive cases, Mr. Sleeth has defended over a dozen multi-million-dollar personal injury claims, and a countless number of smaller claims.
Real Estate Litigation
Mr. Sleeth has successfully tried to verdict an array of real estate disputes, including those involving community associations, partition claims, and eviction actions. He has also litigated claims for adverse possession, trespass, and a variety of title disputes. Additionally, Mr. Sleeth has defended numerous title companies, title agents, and real estate agents in professional liability claims.
Publications and Education
Mr. Sleeth has written and published extensively in the fields of estate litigation, business litigation, hospitality law, real estate, and community association law, and his articles have been featured in some of the leading trade industry journals and legal publications (including, for example, Estate Planning, Wealth Management, Core Compass, Wealth Strategies Journal, Financial Advisor Magazine, McKnight’s Long Term Care News, The Fee Simple, ABA RPTE E-Report, Modern Restaurant Management, USLAW Magazine, Currents, Docket Call, and Consensus), and he has been quoted in Virginia Lawyers Weekly and Common Ground.
Mr. Sleeth attended law school at William & Mary, where he was one of three students in his graduating class selected to serve on both the William & Mary Law Review and the National Moot Court Team. He was also one of three students in the nation selected to serve as Executive Editor of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Symposium Edition.