Unfortunately, there are times when family members and other beneficiaries of a decedent’s Will or Trust cannot resolve disputes in an amicable fashion. Many times the only way to resolve these disputes is through adversarial litigation.
Most often disputes arise over the manner in which the personal representative (executor) of the decedent’s estate is handling the estate. Beneficiaries will sue to have him or her removed and a new personal representative appointed. The same applies for the appointed Trustee of a Trust and the beneficiaries of a Trust.
Disputes may also arise over the disposition of the decedent’s remains or a specific piece of the decedent’s personal property. There may be issues involving the execution of the Will, including coercion and undue influence over the decedent, forgery of certain documents, or lack of capacity of the Testator. Other areas of probate litigation involves disputed creditor claims and tax and accounting issues.
Many elder abuse issues are also litigated in the probate court. The estate stands as a party to recover property wrongly taken from the decedent or to address other elder abuse issues.
Depending on the type of dispute, a probate litigation attorney will represent one party to the litigation, the personal representative or Trustee, a beneficiary, or the party accused of wrongdoing.
There are statutes of limitation with regard to probate issues. It is important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible to ensure any concerns can be addressed by the court.