Probate litigation is a legal process that occurs when someone challenges the validity of a will or the administration of an estate. This can be a complex and emotional process that can take years to resolve, especially if it is a wrongful death case. Be aware of the following probate litigation issues that a lawyer can help resolve.
A will contest occurs when someone challenges the validity of a will. This can happen if someone believes that the person who made the will (the testator) was not of sound mind or was unduly influenced when the will was made. Other reasons that a will may be contested include fraud and if a will is not legally executed.
Interpretation of the will
Even if a will is valid, there may be disputes over its interpretation. For example, there may be disagreements over the meaning of certain provisions or over how assets should be distributed. When one or both parties continue to protest how a will is interpreted, it can result in litigation.
Breach of fiduciary duty
When someone is named as an executor or administrator of an estate, they have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. If they fail to do so, they can be sued for breach of fiduciary duty. When an estate is not managed properly or if there are accusations of misconduct, it can lead to this type of case.
Undue influence occurs when someone uses their position of power or authority to influence the decisions of the testator. This can include situations where a caregiver or family member coerces the testator into changing their will or making gifts that they would not have otherwise made. This is one of the most common reasons that will is contested.
Lack of capacity
To make a valid will, the testator must have the mental capacity to understand the nature and extent of their property and to comprehend the consequences of their actions. If an individual claims that a lack of capacity is to blame, then litigation can occur.
Disputes over assets
When someone dies, their assets must be distributed according to their wishes or, if there is no will, according to the laws of the state. Disputes can arise if there are questions about the ownership of certain assets or if there are disagreements over how assets should be distributed. When the parties involved continue to have conflicts over how assets are divided, it can result in litigation.
Claims against the estate
As a probate litigation lawyer like one from Silverman Law Office, PLLC can explain, creditors can argue that there are unresolved debts that need to be collected. These claims can be resolved through the probate process, but they can also lead to litigation if there are disputes over the validity or amount of the claims.
Many people with an estate plan choose to set up a trust, which can hold assets under certain conditions. Trust disputes can arise if there are questions about the validity of the trust or if there are disagreements over how the trust assets should be managed or distributed.
Probate litigation can be a complex and emotional process that involves a wide range of legal issues. To learn more about what you can gain from hiring a lawyer, request a consultation right away.