Helen Gavaris Partner

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Helen concentrates in trust and estate litigation and has considerable experience representing fiduciaries and charitable organizations in Surrogate’s Courts and a variety of other forums involving complex disputed matters.

With more than 30 years of experience in her practice area, Helen brings wide-ranging experience, deep technical knowledge, and simple common sense to the work she does for her clients. Helen represents corporate fiduciaries, including several U.S. national banking institutions, and high-net-worth individuals and business owners. She has worked on several substantial estates, including those of Leona M. Helmsley, Harry Winston and Thomas Carvel.

Helen has been successful in litigating and mediating high-profile contested trust and estate matters involving probate contests, intestacy disputes, fiduciary accountings, construction proceedings and other litigation related to estates and trusts. She has a history of success in guiding clients to the most efficient business result in contentious disputes.

Passionate about women’s rights, Helen continues to push for changes in societal norms and for laws that advocate for women and their participation in management. She is a mentor in Hunter College’s pre-law advisory program, where she counsels students interested in pursuing a legal career.

“I develop trusted relationships with my clients by providing strategic counsel to help them navigate through some of the most difficult times in their lives.”


  • Representation of banks, trust companies and individuals who serve as fiduciaries, providing advice and counsel in connection with day-to-day duties and responsibilities; distribution planning; trust and estate accounting; investment responsibilities; bank compliance; and the resolution of beneficiary requests and disputes.
  • Representation of corporate fiduciaries in a multitude of contested proceedings involving accountings, reformation of estate planning documents, construction of trust instrument, trust diversification issues, charitable trusts, and the valuation and sale of non-public companies.
  • Representation of U.S. national financial institution in the disposition of a segment of its trust business.
  • Represented three of the five executors of the Leona M. Helmsley Estate, both as fiduciaries of the estate and trustees of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, in connection with a variety of matters regarding the ongoing administration of this multibillion-dollar Estate, and litigation concerning executor compensation, the operative effect of decedent’s mission statements and the trustees’ scope of authority with respect to charitable grants.*
  • Represented the widow of Thomas Carvel in multiple court proceedings regarding the administration and distribution of the estate and the charitable trust created by decedent, including the successful suspension and removal of the executors of the estate.*
  • Defended numerous multimillion-dollar fraud and stock valuation claims. (Glick v. William Morris Agency; Yatter v. William Morris Agency; Sikora v. Merrill Lynch; Owen v. Soundview Technology Group, Inc.).*
  • * Matters from previous firm