You may have heard talk of probate and probate court, but not fully understand what it is or its implications in terms of wills, trusts and inheritances. The probate process is complicated, and a bit of basic knowledge can help you understand better how it works.
Probate litigation comes into play when there are disputes over assets and distribution of assets following a death. Probate lawsuits can encompass many different areas, including breach of trust, exploitation or exclusion. Here is a brief overview of three common areas where you may encounter probate lawsuits.
1. Breach of fiduciary duty
Breach of fiduciary duty is a serious matter that can result when a person entrusted to manage certain affairs for the deceased, such as an executor or trustee, fails to act in the best interest of the ward or testator. Sometimes a fiduciary (the person entrusted) is a family member, and if he or she breaches his or her duty, this can be especially difficult for other family members to cope with. There are legal consequences to breach of fiduciary duty and this is one type of probate litigation issue.
2. Contested will cases
Sometimes there are legal grounds to contest a will. These can include cases such as when the person who made the will was unduly influenced into signing it, or when the will was drawn up without following proper procedure according to state law. If you think the will you are dealing with has legal grounds to be contested, you should contact a probate attorney.
3. Family disputes
Family disputes are common after a loved one passes away and leaves behind assets to distribute, especially when there is no will or trust already established to determine how to distribute the wealth. A probate attorney can help you evaluate the case and navigate the complex legal issues surrounding family conflicts due to inheritance issues.
Probate litigation is both legally complicated and an emotionally trying time for family members grieving the loss of a loved one. You should seek out a qualified probate attorney to help you find appropriate legal solutions to issues such as the ones described above.