Unfortunately, the process of administering an estate is not always a smooth one. There are a number of factors that can lead to complications, extensions and difficulties. Estate administration is one of the most common legal processes to be lengthened due to contests made by parties involved. Sometimes these are legitimate concerns. Other times deceit and greed are the drivers. Handling estate disputes requires both knowledge of state specific laws and experience in the local probate courts, which our attorneys have.
When a family has recently lost someone dear to them, emotions are high. If someone feels as though there is an error in the will or that they have been cheated of their fair share, they may try to contest a will or challenging other transfers of property. One of the best things a person can do to minimize these challenges is to plan ahead, get an estate plan in place, and then periodically review and update their plan.
The Probate Litigation Process
Probate litigation involves hearings and trials in probate court, disputes involving wills and trusts, probate fraud, abuse of powers of attorney, guardianships, enforcing or denying creditors’ claims, and challenging pre-death gifts.
The first threshold in any probate litigation case is “standing.” In every state, only certain people can bring probate actions. Generally, only close relatives or named beneficiaries have standing to file a probate litigation action in Indiana and Kentucky.
The most common type of probate litigation dispute is the will contest. Once standing is established, one must show legal grounds for the contest. Typical situations include:
- Failure to Follow Proper Formalities: The will was not signed in accordance with state law and is therefore not legally valid.
- Lack of Testamentary Capacity: The decedent lacked proper mental capacity when he or she signed the will.
- Undue Influence: The decedent was improperly influenced by another party when drafting the will.
- Fraudulent Procurement: The decedent was somehow tricked into signing the will when he or she was under the impression that the document was something else.
If you feel as though you or someone you love has valid grounds to contest a will or beneficiary designation, or if you are a beneficiary and/or executor of an estate or trust that is being contested by another party, the Law Office of Jonathan A. Hall, PLLC can help represent your interests. Contact Jonathan today to learn more.