If a loved one were to pass away, you’d hope that their estate would go to you, their will, and their family. However, not every estate goes smoothly.
In some cases, it’s unknown whether the person even had a will or if the estate discovery is contested by potential heirs. What to expect from an estate dispute can depend on the case.
Let’s look at some ways an estate litigation can get contested and what you should know about it.
Types of Estate Litigation Claims
Estate litigation deals with disputes over control of estates or trust funds. Types of estate litigation claims include claims of breach of trust, fiduciary abuse, fraud or undue influence in estate planning, will or trust disputes, breach of fiduciary duty, and other forms of financial elder abuse.
Parties in estate litigation disputes can include executors and trustees, beneficiaries, family members, descendants, creditors, banks, and other interested parties.
Depending on the type of claim, estate litigation may involve complex legal arguments, argumentative testimony, and technical legal procedures. Parties may seek to establish rights to property, protect assets, or seek financial recompense.
Understanding the Court Process
An estate litigation case may affect one’s ability to understand the court process. For those dealing with estate litigation, it is important to understand the court process from start to finish.
First, filing a petition with the court is necessary before the estate litigation proceedings can begin. After the petition is filed, the parties will typically be provided an opportunity to file a response.
During the proceedings, both parties are generally required to provide evidence in support of their claims, allowing the court to come to an informed decision.
If the case is set for trial, the parties are required to appear in court to present their arguments and evidence. After all the evidence has been presented, the court will make a ruling on the dispute.
Hiring an Estate Litigation Attorney
Hiring an estate litigation attorney to navigate you through an estate litigation process is an important decision. When you hire an estate litigation attorney, you can expect a variety of services.
These may include analyzing a will or trust, investigating potential fraud or mismanagement, and challenging the validity of bequests. Furthermore, estate litigation attorneys will zealously advocate on behalf of the client’s interests in court.
Additionally, you can expect experienced counsel to help identify and evaluate potential risks before a dispute escalates. Above all, estate litigation attorneys strive to help their clients reach a fair and equitable resolution as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.
To ensure that you are receiving the highest quality of services, contact these local lawyers with substantial experience handling estate litigation cases.
Strategies to Resolve Estate Disputes Without Going to Court
Generally speaking, there are two strategies to resolve estate disputes without going to court: mediation and arbitration. With mediation, the parties to the dispute agree to meet with a neutral mediator to help them reach a mutually satisfactory resolution.
During the mediation process, both parties are encouraged to put forth their positions in an amicable manner and come to an agreement. On the other hand, arbitration is similar to a trial in that each side presents evidence in their favor to a panel of arbitrators, who then determine the outcome of the dispute.
The benefit of arbitration is that it is typically attempted by one or two experts chosen by both sides so that it yields a more reasoned and thoughtful resolution. Regardless of the dispute resolution chosen, be prepared for a lengthy and expensive process.
Common Reasons for Estate Litigation
Common reasons for estate litigation may include suspicion of the executor mismanaging funds, disagreements about the interpretation of the will, disagreements about the inheritance distributions, concerns about guardianship of a minor child, or disputes between the heirs or beneficiaries.
Estate litigation can be complex and drawn out, and the process can be lengthy and costly. Before engaging in estate litigation, it is important to understand the statutes, rules, and procedures that govern the probate system.
An experienced estate attorney can guide you through the legal process, support you in protecting your rights, and help you find the best possible solution for your particular situation.
Laws Surrounding Contested Wills & Trusts
Laws surrounding contested wills and trusts help to resolve the conflict among family members, including when a will or trust is contested by a beneficiary or heir who believes that the terms of the document are invalid or that their rights to the estate have been overlooked in some way.
When someone passes away, family members can expect to work through disputes related to the interpretation of the deceased person’s wishes.
Disputes about assets can arise, as can questions about the validity of a will, the rights of minors, and how the estate should be handled when the last will and testament is ambiguous.
People dealing with these matters should expect to begin the process by filing a petition in the appropriate court, then gathering evidence and attending hearings.
Pitfalls to Avoid When Entering Into Estate Litigation
Estate litigation specifically involves conflicts about inheritance and estate-related matters such as a will, trust, powers of attorney, and other matters concerning financial assets.
The main pitfalls to avoid when entering a dispute are ignorance of the law, the possibility of family discord, failure to make a sound argument, unduly inflating costs during litigation, and failure to recognize the limitations of the court.
An attorney with experience in estate litigation can help guide you through this process and outline what to expect. Generally, a deep understanding of the law surrounding inheritance is necessary when bringing a case to court.
Because of this, the journey in court may be long and complex, taking several weeks or longer. Crafting compelling and accurate legal briefs is an important step, as these documents are vital to your success in a case.
Learn All About Estate Litigation
In conclusion, estate litigation can be complicated and difficult to navigate. It is important to be aware of the legal process and have a knowledgeable attorney who can help you throughout the entire process.
If you have an estate dispute or are considering filing a claim, you can contact an experienced attorney to explore your options and get the best resolution possible.
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