What is Probate Litigation
What is Probate Litigation? When someone passes away, their assets, properties have to go to the rightful heir or beneficiaries or both. The judicial process through which this happens when the deceased left no will behind or had a will or an unfunded trust is called probate.
Probate Litigation and steps to protect your legal rights
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If the deceased didn’t leave a will, the court relies on state law to distribute the assets. However, a last will and testament would have made the process smoother. The purpose of a last will and testament is to express your wish for how your wealth is to be shared among heirs and or beneficiaries after your death and who will be in charge of your wealth until its ultimate distribution.
However, in some probate processes, disagreements arise. In some cases, the parties involved reach an agreement outside courts, but in other cases, conflicts result in litigation.
Essentially probate litigation refers to individuals’ legal action to seek compensation or guide from the court regarding a will or trust. But litigation is no mean feat; it’s a smart idea to retain a probate litigation lawyer’s services to help get favorable results.
What is a probate litigation attorney?
A probate litigation attorney provides legal representation in matters involving contested trusts or wills.
A probate litigation lawyer is different from an estate planning attorney. While the latter is also familiar with estate planning, wills, and trusts, that is just about the extent of their specialization; they won’t represent you in probate court.
A probate litigation lawyer is a trial attorney with experience in estate planning, wills and trusts, and the judicial process involved in disputing a will or trust.
When should you hire a probate litigation lawyer?
Probate litigation lawyers come in when there is an issue with a will or trust leading to litigation. A probate litigation attorney can help both trustee and beneficiaries resolve disputes involving a beloved’s trust or will.
But you cannot just challenge a will or trust because its terms are not favorable to you. See, there are four legal causes to contest a will in California. These include the following:
- Undue influence
- Violation of state law.
Here, therefore, are examples of scenarios that could do with the help of a probate litigation attorney:
Quiet title to a property
Suppose there are claims or challenges to the title of a loved one’s property. In that case, a lawsuit can be brought in court to settle or establish the title to the property and thus ‘quiet’ any challenges to the plaintiff’s ownership of the property.
Quiet title lawsuits are common after the passing of property owners. Following the case, the plaintiff and his/her heirs get full possession of the property.
Contest a trust or will
Probate litigation also provides information, advice, and legal representation when contesting a will or disputing a trust. A will or trust may come under dispute if it’s changed under suspicious circumstances, contains ambiguous wording, mistakes, or omissions. In any case, a court’s wisdom will be needed to resolve disputes.
Seek compensation for a violation of fiduciary responsibilities
Both the executors and trustees are appointed to carry out a decedent’s wishes concerning their will or trust. They have a fiduciary responsibility to beneficiaries and or heirs. That means they shouldn’t act in self-interest.
If you are having problems with an executor or trustee, you can file a lawsuit to have them removed and get a responsible fiduciary in place. You can also seek compensation for misappropriated funds.
Secure a property taken without one’s consent,
It’s always good to distribute a loved one’s assets according to their wishes. However, that may not be possible in case of missing items. A lot happens when a loved one passes away; usually, one’s estate is not secure.
Amidst the grief and uncertainty, items start to disappear. If the missing items amount to the level of criminal theft, a probate litigation attorney can help file a lawsuit to help discover the whereabouts and recover missing properties.
Address undue influence
One of the most well-known reasons for disputing a trust or contesting a will is undue influence. It usually happens if one or more beneficiaries or heirs take advantage of the decedent, influencing him/her to change the will in their favor. If you suspect that a will or trust has been changed due to undue influence, you can contest it in court to get it set aside.
Issues of incapacity
Undue influence and incapacity go hand in hand. In case the decedent lacked the mental ability to make a sound judgment about the distribution of their assets, a probate litigation attorney can argue in court to get the will or trust tossed.
The mechanisms of probate litigation
In a probate litigation case, the plaintiff brings the case to the probate court, seeking redress and guidance regarding a disputed trust or will; following discovery, a court trial may proceed. Probate litigation cases take years. In the duration of the case, the plaintiff can seek to have the trustee or executor removed and the trust placed in the hands of a temporary fiduciary until a ruling is made.
Generally, there is no specified period after someone’s passing for the will or trust to be filed for probate. Also, because the executor and trustee are personally liable to heirs or beneficiaries, they are expected to defend themselves in person.
Probate cases take years and cost a substantial amount of dollars. Indeed, the reason most people set up trusts is to avoid the hassles of probate. But even so, beneficiaries or heirs of a trustor can still take legal action against a trustee to get him/her removed, or the trust set aside for various reasons.
A probate litigation lawyer near me
Because hearings and trials in probate litigation cases take place in county probate courts where the loved one died, it’s a smart idea to retain the services of a probate litigation lawyer familiar with your local county probate court.
Do you need the help of a probate litigation attorney in California? Indeed, we are familiar with estate planning, wills, and trusts and are experienced in trial law. We will help you in trust and probate litigation cases, ensuring you get the best result. Contact us today for help with your disputed will or trust.
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Are you looking for a probate lawyer in the Orange County area? When it comes to the practice of Trust and estates, it can be difficult finding an attorney that’s experienced in
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