Contested Will? Talk to an Estate Litigation Attorney.
Let's face it. Nobody wants to hire an estate litigation attorney to contest an estate. It's best to avoid any litigation. As a result, your best solution to prevent conflicts is to work with an estate litigation attorney. They'll determine the best way to distribute assets and eliminate confusion regarding your wishes. Failing to do so or adequately draft an estate plan leaves the door open to contestation.
5 Common Issues Resulting in Estate Litigation
Individuals may contest or dispute wills based on several factors, but these are the most common issues requiring an estate litigation attorney.
Lack of Capacity by the Will Testator
The law requires you have the mental capacity to execute a will. Moreover, you must understand your assets and their distribution when doing so. However, a court can void the will owing to a lack of capacity. Consequently, challenging a will on those grounds usually involves someone establishing incompetence due to dementia, Alzheimer's, senility, mental illness, etc.
Undue Influence by a Third Party
It creates undue influence if someone compels or coerces you to execute a will. For example, after learning your estate plan and uncovering their exclusion, a family member may exert undue influence, causing you to alter your will. Often, one child coerces a parent to remove another child from the will. And that leads to contesting a will based on undue influence. If you have concerns, talk with an estate litigation attorney in advance to stem future issues.
Estate Litigation for Improper Execution
Someone can contest a will's validity if executed improperly. For instance, most states require you to sign the will and include two witnesses. Failing to have that second witness may void the document. Other issues can arise from executing a will improperly. So it pays to work with a will lawyer near you rather than drafting your own will through some other resource like a website. By the way, if someone suspects forging your will, they're free to contest your will.
Breach of Duty
Your estate representatives have fiduciary duties, including honesty, prudence, and loyalty. An individual can contest your will based on a breach of those duties when violated. An estate litigation attorney can help with any disputes.
Pennsylvania allows for an elective share regardless of your will. As a result, a surviving spouse can take an elective share of the property. For instance, even if you exclude your spouse from an inheritance, they're entitled to file a lawsuit requesting the court take an elective share. In Pennslyvania, the elective share amounts to one-third of a decedent spouse's property. The surviving spouse has to file the suit six months following your death or six months following probate (whichever is later). Otherwise, they waive their right.
Talk to a Lawyer Near You
Our Norristown and Doylestown estate litigation attorneys represent heirs, trustees, and personal representatives. So they file actions to capture and recover misappropriated assets while the owner is incompetent or unable to resist the influence of those close to them. In addition, those estate attorneys also file actions against the government to recover assets seized for taxes.
When trust disputes arise, they generally involve contests over several considerations:
- Administration of trusts
- Breach of fiduciary duty
- Misappropriation of funds
- Interpretation of the terms of the trust in light of modern law
- Failure of the trustee to act
Get in touch if you're looking for a lawyer near you in Montgomery County or Bucks County, PA. Our estate attorneys can assist you with litigation and contested wills.