Probate is the legal process during which a person’s assets are distributed to beneficiaries after debts are paid. In some cases involving probate, a person’s will is involved. When controversies arise concerning how a person’s estate should be administered, these situations are referred to as probate litigation. If you are involved in probate litigation, the assistance of a skilled probate attorney can prove to be particularly helpful.
Common Areas Involving Probate Litigation
When parties disagree about how estates are being probated, there is great likelihood that litigation will occur. Because these cases can be difficult, it is important for individuals in these cases to obtain the assistance of a seasoned estate planning attorney. Some of the most common areas in which our law firm assists individuals in cases of probate litigation include:
- Conflicts of Interest: Many probate litigation cases involve conflicts of interests that involvs designated beneficiaries who might have less than loyal relationships with the deceased person.
- Exclusions: When parties are omitted from wills but believe that they should be included, individuals are known to challenge the will’s validity on arguments of incapacity or undue influence.
- Lack of Capacity: Sometimes, beneficiaries or administrators feel that the deceased individual lacked the proper mental capacity to create an effective last will and testament. These cases frequently involve medical evaluations.
- Power of Attorney Abuses: The documents that create the power of attorney provide parties the capacity to make significant life decisions on behalf of the incapacitated individual. If the party that is granted power of attorney makes inappropriate decisions, there is a risk of litigation occurring about abuse of this power.
- Removal of an Executor: An executor is tasked with managing the estate of a deceased person. If an executor fails to perform these duties in an efficient and timely manner, there is significant damage that can be done to the person’s estate. In these situations, probate litigation is not uncommon.
- Removal of a Trustee: Trustees must make sure that a trust remains able to fulfill the purpose for which the trust was created. In some cases, however, trustees fails to properly perform their duties. As a result, beneficiaries may petition courts for removal of the trustee.
- Trustee Fraud: A trustee is responsible for maintaining a trust and reporting accurate details about management of the trust. In some situations, however, a trust might attempt to disguise failure to perform their duties or wrongdoing.
- Undue Influence: The most common cause of will contests is when one person uses his or her power to manipulate another person into signing a will, which eliminates the element of free will and rational judgment that are required to create estate planning documents.
- Unequal Shares: A common issue for the beneficiaries of a person who creates a will is whether those individuals receive unequal share from the estate. Litigation often occurs concerning this issue.
Speak to an Experienced Probate Attorney
If you or a loved one is involved in probate litigation and needs the assistance of a skilled attorney, consider contacting attorney Jim A Lyon for a consultation. Our law firm is waiting to help you today.