You’ve seen those types of cases where families battle over a deceased loved one’s will on courtroom TV but when it happens in real life, it can be an incredibly painful and stressful ordeal. Not only are families trying to grieve and rebuild their lives after a loss but they must now have those wounds reopened as they fight to retain the money that was left to them. While it’s possible to prevent most of these sad and stressful situations with good estate tax planning, there are still times where probate litigation is simply unavoidable. In these situations, it pays to have an experienced and knowledgeable team of attorneys by your side to handle your case with sensitivity and fight with your best interests in mind.
What is Probate Litigation?
Probate is the legal process of transferring property after a person passes. This process is designed to distribute the possessions of a deceased person who may have passed without a will or any other type of estate planning put in place. While it may seem like creating a will or living trust is something that most people do before they pass on, in reality, the majority of estates in the US will end up going through the probate process.
However, even when you take the time to create a valid will, the probate court will still need to distribute your assets as outlined in the will. In these cases, most of the time the distribution of assets is handled easily and without conflict. But other times a legal contest may arise, leading to probate litigation.
Probate litigation refers to a lawsuit filed by a probate attorney when there is a dispute over a will or in other instances including:
- A person named in the will can no longer manage their affairs or they have become incapacitated.
- The person(s) named in the will requires a guardian or conservator.
- There is a dispute regarding who should act as a guardian or conservator.
- Someone is suspected of abusing their role as a guardian or conservator.
- And more
Additionally, probate litigation may be necessary if a fiduciary or power of attorney is suspected of any misconduct.
What Happens in Probate?
When an estate goes to probate it is either contested or uncontested. Typically, contested issues arise during the probate process due to the fact that an heir is seeking a larger share of the property than they received. Some of the reasons that one might contest a will also include:
- It is believed that someone had undue influence over the decedent
- A failure of formality in which the validity of the will comes in to question
- Or due to mental incapacity if it is believed that the decedent was not of sound mind when creating their will.
However, the majority of probated estates go uncontested. If the estate is uncontested, it will go through a basic process including:
- Collecting the probate property of the decedent
- Pay any debts, claims and taxes that are owed by the estate
- Collecting rights to income and dividends
- Settling any disputes
- Distributing any remaining property to all heirs
It is common practice for people to name an executor to manage their affairs once they’ve passed on. But if you fail to name an executor the court will then appoint a personal representative or administrator to take over the settlement of your estate.
Put Your Trust in the Probate Attorneys at France Law Firm
The skilled and knowledgeable team at France Law Firm can help you plan for your loved ones after your passing or offer you guidance during the probate process when you need it. By ensuring that your personal affairs are in order before you’re gone, you can help save your loved ones from the stress and worry that comes with contesting a will. Additionally, when your future is at stake, working with a confident and experienced probate attorney is the best way to make sure your case is handled properly. Visit us online today to schedule an initial consultation.