More than a few Scottsdale residents view probate litigation as an unsolvable mystery. Many avoid key issues, hoping family disputes will just go away. Ask any person who has dealt with a contested Trust or Will whether avoidance made things better. It didn’t.
Here at Stewart Law Group, we have observed firsthand how misunderstood the area of probate law can be. When someone passes on a probate court will help to identify and distribute the assets of the deceased to their legal heirs as laid out in a will. When someone contests these proceedings probate litigation is required to determine the correct distribution of assets. Some argue the estate plan is faulty. Others claim the distribution is unfair. Still, others insist on the exercise of duties by the trustee, executor, or personal representative were below standard. The truth is, probate litigation can come from any direction. These situations should be dealt with in court for the best possible outcome.
Are you the trustee, beneficiary, devisee, or heir? All of the above? Probate can be highly personal, especially when an individual wears more than one hat.
There is a lot going on in these cases so always consult a qualified probate attorney near you regarding contested Wills, Trusts, or Estates. The same family members you celebrated the holidays with could claim a number of things including:
Because these matters tend to be very personal, and often involve family, taxes, and federal law, working through the problems without legal representation is not recommended.
Personality conflicts, sibling rivalries, and distrust worsens existing concerns over the cost of administration, wasted resources, diminished assets, and the like. Both relations and relationships can exacerbate legitimate probate issues and increase tensions.
Second-guessing every decision as trustee; worrying you will be challenged no matter what you do, it’s a tremendous burden. Being on the receiving end of a beneficiary’s increasingly hostile phone calls is bad enough. Don’t let conflicts like these invade precious personal time.
Serving as a trustee of a trust, executor of a Last Will, or personal representative of a decedent’s estate is often a thankless job. You wouldn’t be the first to learn how complex the role of fiduciary typically is. Personalities and emotional baggage can make straightforward tasks quite difficult. As a relative or friend of the family, accountants and other professionals are not immune from probate litigation either.
You could be one of several devisees to a deceased parent’s estate by Will. But things just aren’t adding up. It’s not unusual to believe in an executor’s qualities or abilities when first appointed. But trust fades with questionable decisions, favoritism toward certain devisees, or deliberate mishandling for personal gain. This could be the turning point. Talk to a qualified probate attorney near you about revoking letters of personal representative.
Litigation involving beneficiary rights is a potential minefield for anyone unrepresented by a probate lawyer. People make plans around what they believe they will inherit or be gifted. They incur debts and buy property in reliance on a future distribution from the estate. When that distribution does not come to fruition as anticipated because of the grantor’s trust amendment or testator’s Will codicil, then a probate challenge could follow.
Validity or invalidity of a trust or trust amendment can also form the basis for probate litigation. That’s also true with a Last Will or codicil to the Last Will that changes distribution percentages, omits a beneficiary, delays distribution to a specific child, or creates a spendthrift trust. A person who lacked the capacity to create a valid estate plan brings into question the entire plan’s validity.
Anyone whose inheritance rights are harmed or obstructed may pursue litigation against the estate, including creditors. A spouse may seek to enforce community property rights. An adult child from the decedent’s first marriage may claim a share despite being omitted from the Will. Every case has unique challenges.
“Robert Howard is an outstanding attorney and asset to the Stewart Law Group. He and his team were always available, timely in their responses to my questions and very understanding of this difficult time in my life. Mr. Howard is extremely knowledgeable and professional. He proactively managed case details while always being mindful of the big picture and my future well being. With heartfelt gratitude, I commend Mr. Howard for his expert advocacy and I recommend him without hesitation.”
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Our experienced probate law legal team is committed to providing representation of the highest quality to all our clients. Call the Scottsdale office at 480-425-1400 and schedule a confidential consultation with an attorney who can help. Feel free to email your question to email@example.com and we will quickly, discretely respond.