Will Contests & Probate Litigation
Ensure that your rights are protected with assistance from our experienced team.
Challenging the validity of a Will or Trust are proceedings in the Probate Court and have its unique set of procedural rules that differ from your standard civil litigation case. Our attorneys have over 15 years of experience assisting clients through will and trust litigation matters ranging from smaller estates to highly contested estates involving substantial assets. No matter where you are in the process, we can assist you in moving your matter to completion.
We also have expertise in other litigation matters that arise in the probate court, including common law and marital status challenges, fraudulent transfers, creditor lawsuits, personal representative and trustee breaches and removal.
One major tenet of our firm is that we want to make sure you understand the legal process you’re apart of, and we take time to explain the purpose of each step and your options at every juncture.
Will and Trust Contests
A will or trust can be contested on a few different grounds. It is certainly possible to contest a will/trust successfully, but significant evidence is required, and the burden of proof is on the contester. If you are considering contesting a will/trust, consider discussing your argument and your proof with an attorney. Some of the possible grounds for contesting a will/trust include the following:
- Lack of capacity: proving that the testator/grantor did not have the necessary mental capacity to sign the will/trust.
- Undue influence: proving that another individual, usually someone in a position of trust or power (such as a caretaker), coerced, manipulated or pressured the testator/grantor into making or changing the will/trust against their wishes.
- Revocation: proving that the testator/grantor revoked the will/trust being presented as valid.
- Fraud: proving that the will was created or altered by someone other than the testator/grantor against the testator’s/grantor’s wishes.
Removal of Executor/Personal Representative or Trustee
If you believe a personal representative or trustee is acting negligently or in bad faith, one possible first step is to try to confirm such suspicions. You can request that the personal representative/trustee provide documentation, such as an inventory of the estate’s assets or an interim accounting. If provided, these documents should reflect the personal representative’s actions and provide specific details on their financial dealings. If the documents look questionable, you can request additional documentation. For example, if the accounting reflects that an item was sold at a certain price, but you believe it was sold for a higher price, you can request documentation regarding that sale. Taking this step of gathering information could clarify potential misunderstandings but also provide you with proof of a personal representative’s/trustee’s bad action.
To have a personal representative/trustee removed through the court, you must file a petition for removal and a court hearing will almost certainly be required in order for a court to make a determination as to whether or not removal is warranted.
Other Probate Litigation
- Disputes regarding estate distributions, including alleged common law marriages
- Collections actions against an estate (including litigation if necessary)
- Collection and litigation actions on behalf of an estate
- Negotiation and/or litigation regarding disputes related to the trust
- Fraudulent transfers of assets
- Personal Representative or Trustee negligence or intentional wrongdoing