Trust and Estate Litigation
Our team of experienced probate lawyers has decades of experience in creating trusts, estates, and succession plans for individuals, families, and businesses. Because of that experience and knowledge base, we are sometimes asked to represent persons who have been denied their share of an inheritance. In those instances, we evaluate the facts presented, review documents, and seek to establish the rights of our clients to secure their rightful share of an estate or trust.
Common actions available to an estate heir or trust beneficiary may include one or more of the following:
Will Contests: In appropriate circumstances, it may be appropriate to challenge the validity of a will. While the list is not exhaustive, common reasons why a will may be invalid include:
Lack of Testamentary Capacity by the Testator (the Person Who Signed the Will): the testator did not understand the nature and extent of his/her property or lacked the mental capacity to formulate a plan to dispose of the property;
Undue Influence: a person benefitting under the will improperly persuaded the testator to dispose of his/her property in a manner that he/she otherwise would not have done;
Fraud: Inducing the testator to sign a document that contains terms different than he/she believes are included; may also include altering the document after it is signed;
Forgery: The signature appearing on the document is not that of the alleged testator;
Revocation: The testator revoked the document or took some action which shows the intent to revoke;
Noncompliance with Statutory Requirements: The failure to satisfy statutory requirements in executing a valid will;
Presumptively Void Transfers: Certain transfers to non-family caregivers are presumed invalid, although the presumption may be overcome to validate the transfer.
Challenge to Taking Under the Will or Intestate Succession (the Absence of a Will):
- Grounds to invalidate the right of an heir to receive property from an estate may include:
- Causing the death of the decedent;
- Financial exploitation of an elderly or disabled person;
- Neglect of a child or elderly person.
Breach of Fiduciary Duty: A person who breaches a fiduciary duty to another may be liable for financial damages caused by that breach.
Citation to Recover Assets: Assets which belong to the estate of a decedent, disabled person, or minor and which wrongfully have been converted or hidden may be discovered and/or recovered by judicial proceedings.
Claims Against Decedents’ Estates: Obligations incurred by the decedent prior to death, or claims against the decedent arising from conduct before death, may give rise to claims against an estate. Common claims include:
- Breach of contract;
- Repayment of debts;
- Payment for services rendered;
- Child support;
- Lawsuits for tortious conduct, whether based on negligent or intentional conduct, as well as those asserting breach of contract.
Claims for Fees Earned by Attorneys or Personal Representatives of the Estate: Fees earned by attorneys, guardians, administrators, and executors may be recovered from the estate.
If you are an heir, trust beneficiary, or representative on an estate and believe that you may have a claim against an estate of trust, or if you need representation to a challenge against your rights or conduct, please give us a call to discuss your options.