Families have enough on their plates after the passing of a loved one without worrying about the closing of an estate. Unfortunately, many people don't have adequate estate plans to prevent debt collection and family disputes after their deaths.
If you're named in an estate litigation lawsuit, you could be forced to go to court even before you've had proper time to grieve. Our attorneys explain the most common types of probate disputes and how we can help.
When Is Estate Litigation Necessary?
There are many different situations that can lead to lengthy court actions after a person’s passing. Your case may involve fraud, conflicting copies of a will, or even a typo on a document that could be interpreted multiple ways by different parties. As the terms of a will might offer much-needed funds to potential heirs, emotions often run high during these disputes.
Our estate litigation attorneys can help you:
- Challenge a will. If you were unexpectedly disinherited, you may be able to contest the terms of a loved one’s will or trust. The law allows beneficiaries to challenge a will your relative was coerced into changing or when they didn't have the mental capacity to create a valid will; or if the will has been forged by another party. Our years of experience allow us to investigate crucial details and explain your options in simple, direct fashion.
- Hold an executor or fiduciary accountable. The person administering your loved one’s estate has a professional and legal duty to act in the estate’s best interest. We can help you press a claim if the personal representative ("executor") committed a breach of fiduciary duty, or can defend your actions from heirs if you're the executor or trustee. This may require a formal accounting procedure to account for all of the property and debts in the estate and how they'll be disbursed.
- Defend your actions as a trustee or fiduciary. It can be overwhelming to act as the personal representative of a loved one’s estate. You have to meet a number of deadlines and act in accordance with the law—and if you make a mistake, you could be held personally liable for any losses. We can represent you during proceedings if a beneficiary has filed an action against you to explain your choices and expenses as a fiduciary.
- Collect a past debt. Most people die owing some kind of outstanding debt. Although the executor of the estate has an obligation to notify creditors and address properly filed creditor claims, creditors have to follow certain steps to collect on those debts. If you don't act quickly, the estate may be closed and the funds will be disbursed to beneficiaries. We can help you file a claim against an estate so your right to be repaid won’t be lost forever.
- Resolve a dispute during probate. Probate disputes may arise for many reasons, but are particularly likely if your loved one didn't leave a will. Without this directive, surviving family members have to decide who serves as the estate executor—and there may be disagreements as to who should fill the post. If there's a will but the information is outdated, the wrong people may benefit financially from your loved one’s assets or gain control over the estate.
- Investigate possible fraud. Executors, trustees, guardians, and agents acting under a power of attorney all have the ability to abuse their positions. If someone acting on behalf of the estate has committed fraud, our estate litigation lawyers can investigate on your behalf and gather the necessary evidence to compel a judge to remove them.
It's important to get the right lawyer for these types of disputes. The attorneys at DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis have years of experience in estate planning and estate litigation, and can ease your stress while we fight for what you deserve. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up a consultation and get answers to your questions.