Trust & Estate Litigation

Estate litigation exists when a person dies and a lawsuit needs to be filed on behalf of the decedent or the decedent’s heirs.  It may or may not involve contesting a Last Will and Testament or a Trust. Estate litigation may include opening an estate to file a wrongful death lawsuit against a nursing home, airline, automobile driver, railway or any other person or entity responsible for the death of an individual. While estate litigation can also include probate litigation, Last Will and Testament contests and trust litigation, in certain situations there are no heirs, family members of beneficiaries who are at odds over what the decedent did with his or her Last Will and Testament or trust; instead, for example, the estate litigation may be a lawsuit against a life insurance company that is refusing to honor the terms of a life insurance policy. Other issues that have given rise to litigation include:

  1. Power of Attorney – a power of attorney is a document executed by one person (the “principal”) to give another person (the “attorney-in-fact”) the power to act on the principal’s behalf as if he were the principal. The Power of Attorney is a very powerful document and is subject to being abused by the attorney-in-fact, which can lead to litigation. Powers of Attorney can be challenged on various grounds. The validity of the document itself can be attacked on the basis of improper execution, undue influence, or lack of capacity. If the document itself appears to be valid, the attorney-in-fact can be charged with breach of fiduciary duty or tortuous interference with expectancy, among other causes of action.

 

  1. Homestead/Real Property Disputes - Deeds can be prepared incorrectly or in a manner that does not comply with the intent of the individual transferring the property. Litigation can be used to correct either honest mistakes in execution and conveyance or deliberate fraud.

 

  1. Forged instruments - Sometimes instruments that leave property to beneficiaries outside of the probate process, like deeds, beneficiary designations, pay-on-death accounts, and joint accounts, have been created improperly through manipulation or outright deceit. Litigation can be used to undo the damage done by someone who is effectively stealing from a person (often an elderly person) or from the person’s intended beneficiaries.
 

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Disclaimer

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision. For further information about our credentials, please call or write.The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision. For further information about our credentials, please call or write.

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