Laurel R.S. Blair is a strategic advisor and litigator with over 20 years of experience counseling professional fiduciaries and individuals in the private wealth, private banking and wealth management areas. Her clients include financial institutions serving as trustees, personal representatives/executors, and conservators. Laurel advises financial institution chief fiduciary officers, in-house general counsel, trust officers, investment portfolio officers, and registered investment advisors.

A member of the firm’s Wealth Management Team, Laurel provides bespoke, customized solutions, values confidentiality and strategic negotiation to minimize reputational risk, and works well across time zones.

Professional focus: strategic negotiation, on-call advice, pre-litigation dispute resolution, and fiduciary litigation in matters including trust modifications, breach of fiduciary duty issues, document construction, investment portfolio concentrations, asset valuation issues, tax issues, distributions, will contests (capacity/undue influence), inter-beneficiary disputes, special assets issues, corporate issues, declaratory judgment/judicial guidance petitions to resolve technical issues and facilitate trust and estate administration, fiduciary appointment/substitution matters, estate administration (including claims against estates), and certain financial institution regulatory and compliance issues. 

Laurel is a Certified Mediator (S.C. Board of Arbitrator and Mediator Certification: Dispute Resolution and Negotiation).

Professional Activities

  • South Carolina Bar Probate Code Revision Committee
  • Greenville, SC Estate Planning Council
    •  President (2010 – 2011)
    • former Treasurer
    • VP-Membership
    • VP-Programs
    • Director 
  • Greenville, SC Estate Planning Study Group
  • South Carolina Bar
  • University of Virginia Alumni Association
  • Junior League of Charleston, SC 2012-present
  • Junior League of Greenville, SC 1995-2012

Honors and Awards

  • Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America© in the field(s) of Litigation - Trusts and Estates, Trusts and Estates, 2013 – Present
  • Super Lawyers Honoree, 2014 – 2018
  • Charleston Business Magazine Legal Elite, 2017 – Present
  • Legal Elite of the Upstate, South Carolina 2012
  • “Best and Brightest Under 35” Nominee, Greenville Business Magazine, 2002

Publications and Presentations

  • "Recent Legal Developments and Trends Affecting Fiduciaries and Counsel", presentation to Charleston, South Carolina Estate Planning Council, 2020.
  • "Developments and Trends Affecting Professional Fiduciaries", presentation to Bank of America, N.A. private bank, trust and investment teams, 2019.
  • "Forming a Holding Company...Easy, Right?", 44th Annual National Trust Closely Held Business Association's Conference, 2019. Presentation with Bank of America N.A. Managing Director and National Executive (Private Business Group and Real Estate Services) Andrew Tanner.
  • "Current Fiduciary Issues and Developments in the Law", presentation to South Carolina Bankers' Association 2019 Trust and Wealth Management Conference.
  • "Strategic Fiduciary Solutions", South Carolina Bar Convention, 2018.
  • "Strategic Planning in Anticipation of Controversy", Estate Planning Council of Columbia, SC, 2018.
  • "LIBOR: No Longer the World's Most Important Number?", Womble Bond Dickinson Client Alert, 2017.
  • "Fiduciary Management of Closely Held Assets: Risks and Portfolio Considerations", 41st Annual National Trust Closely Held Business Association Conference, 2016.
  • "Practical Risk Management Considerations in Trust Administration", South Carolina Bankers' Association Trust and Wealth Management Conference, 2016.
  • "Top Ten Risks in Trust Specialized Assets", National Trust Real Estate Association Annual Forum, 2014.
Experience

Any result the lawyer or law firm may have achieved on behalf of clients in other matters does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.

  • Successful representation of financial institution trustee in judicial proceeding for Court-approved modification of $150 million trust, with ratification of portfolio concentration retention and all past trustee investment decisions during trust administration back to 1943 inception, reallocation of risk exposure for investment decisions from trustee to board of advisors, and favorable trustee compensation adjustment.
  • Prevailed for widow of NASCAR racing team owner on appeal before S.C. Court of Appeals and S.C. Supreme Court. Issue: whether to multimillion dollar securities designated for widow before death were owned by widow, or were includible in estate. Supreme Court Opinion clarifies Uniform Commercial Code Article 8 application and displacement of common law, providing certainty in determining when and how securities ownership arises and limiting financial institution risk exposure caused by random factors such as asset owner death and third party intermediary implementation delays. "In re: Estate of Rider", 407 S.C. 386, 756 S.E.2d 136 (S.C. 2014).
  • Prevailed on summary judgment for Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. as Trustee on breach of fiduciary duty and fraud claims in multimillion dollar trust matter, based on alleged conflict of interest created by trust administration services and commercial lending rendered under bank’s full-service business model. A loss could have undone the industry’s full-service business model. "Mozingo v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.", 2012 WL 4473128, U.S. District Court, D.S.C. Florence Division; Civil Action No. 4:11-cv-5220TLW-KDW, Sept. 26, 2012.
  • Successful defense of financial institution trustee in trust litigation matter to remove LLC manager, preserve trust assets and minimize continuing exposure (where LLC manager in trust-owned LLC context embezzled assets and submitted inaccurate financial information to trustee); favorable confidential settlement with zero media coverage.
  • Successful defense of financial institution trustee in multimillion dollar will contests regarding the estate plans of former Clemson University President Robert C. Edwards and his wife, Louise O. Edwards. Favorable confidential settlement with zero media coverage. "Waggoner et al v. Bank of America, N.A. as Co-Trustee for the Robert C. Edwards Trust and as Co-Personal Representative for the Estate of Robert C. Edwards et al, 2009-CP-39-1235; Waggoner v. Bank of America, N.A. as Co-Trustee for the Louise O. Edwards Trust and as Co-Personal Representative for the Estate of Louise O. Edwards et al", 2009-CP-39-1234.
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Bar admissions

1993, South Carolina

Admitted to practice before:

  • United States District Court for the District of South Carolina
  • United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • United States Tax Court

Education

  • J.D., 1993, Syracuse University College of Law
    • Dean’s List
    • Editor/Executive Board Member of the Legislative Research Bureau 1991-1993 (Editorial Service Award, 1992-1993)
    • National Environmental Moot Court Appellate Team
    • Lionel L. Grossman Trial Competition
  • B.A., 1990, University of Virginia
    • Dean’s List
    • Distinguished Majors Thesis
    • Jefferson Society of the University of Virginia
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