There are a number of situations in which probate litigation may be necessary. While no one wants their estate plan to result in litigation, disputes can arise that can’t be resolved between the parties. In my experience dealing with wills, trusts and probate, I have found that many probate matters that end up in court involve:
- Situations where a child or other family member is cut out of the estate plan, or receives a reduced share than what they perceive is fair;
- An estate plan is made or changed near the end of a person’s life or when they are unwell, when issues of competency or undue influence arise (the last caregiver receives the entire estate, for example);
- Parents overestimate the ability of their children to harmoniously administer their probate or trust plan;
- Disagreements between children of a first marriage and a second spouse.
When preparing your estate plan, if there are circumstances where the risk of litigation is increased, we will take steps now to defend the potential lawsuit that could arise after your death.
These extra precautions and evidence we compile while you are living can often stop a lawsuit before it starts: a party considering suing your estate may reevaluate after receiving medical reports and other documentary evidence we compile in anticipation of the lawsuit. This will save your beneficiaries much expense and grief after you are gone.
On the other hand, you may find yourself considering starting a will or trust contest to investigate or undo a situation where someone else acted wrongfully. I have successfully litigated cases where trustees failed to disclose trust assets to beneficiaries, conservators misused their ward’s assets for their own benefit, assets were re-titled or given away prior to a person’s death, and a case where a caregiver exerted undue influence to bring about a change in the estate plan in their favor and to the detriment of the decedent’s children.
If you find yourself in a situation where probate litigation is impending, give me a call. I will be happy to discuss the situation and put my years of experience to work for you.