Even the most carefully drafted Will or trust can leave some family members feeling short-changed, concerned that the deceased experienced duress or undue influence during the estate planning process, or convinced that a trustee is improperly administering their inheritance. In many situations involving Trust & Estates Litigation, the dispute relates to unresolved conflict with someone who is no longer living.
Inevitably, some of these disputes will end up in litigation.
Whether you’re facing an estate contest or defending against one, it’s essential to retain expert legal counsel to help you navigate the process and ensure your rights are protected in full accordance with the law. The attorneys at Smith Legacy Law have extensive Trusts & Estates Litigation experience on behalf of high-net-worth individuals and families. Successful Trusts & Estates Litigation requires a litigator with experience in this specific practice area. As your lawyers for life, Smith Legacy Law is ready to leverage their knowledge and experience for the benefit of you and your family.
Calm and Objective Counsel at an Emotionally Sensitive Time
Trusts and Estates Litigation is a highly specialized practice area that requires specific experience, skill sets and knowledge.
Achieving positive results requires an in-depth knowledge of the laws and procedures that govern probate and trust administration, as well as an ability to provide calm and objective counsel that can help lessen the sting of what is sure to be an emotion-laden endeavor.
Our attorneys have successfully advocated on behalf of trustees, executors, administrators, conservators, beneficiaries, and other parties in all manner of estate-related disputes, including, but not limited to:
- Will Contests and Trust Challenges: Even the most thoughtfully crafted Will or trust can be challenged on suspicion of undue influence, fraud, coercion, incapacity, or a technical mistake.
- Fiduciary Accountings Disputes: An executor or trustee, as a fiduciary, must keep beneficiaries and other interested persons reasonably informed about the status of a trust or estate’s financial transactions.
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty: As fiduciaries, executors and trustees must discharge their duties within the highest legal and ethical standards. Self-dealing, excessive compensation, improper investments, and fraud are all fiduciary breaches in this context.
- Removal of an Executor or Trustee: When a conflict arises between an executor or trustee and the beneficiaries of an estate, available remedies may include requesting that the court remove the fiduciary and appoint someone else in their place.
- Power of Attorney Disputes: Theft, fraud, and financial mismanagement are common power of attorney abuse allegations. While the person who signed a Power of Attorney can revoke and amend it at any time, other legal action will be necessary if that individual is incapacitated.
- Interpretation and Constructions of Will and Trust Provisions: Wills and Trusts are not always straightforward or easy to interpret. In such cases, a court may need to step in and provide clarity and direction.
- Disclosure and Discovery Actions: When family heirlooms suddenly go missing, or a promised inheritance fails to materialize, beneficiaries should seek to determine if assets have been lost, concealed, stolen or misreported.
- Creditor Claims Against an Estate: Creditors can pursue claims against an estate, provided the claim is properly supported and presented within the applicable statute of limitations period.
- Commissions and Fee Disputes: Executors and trustees, along with their attorneys, accountants and other advisors, are permitted to charge reasonable fees for their services. However, what is considered “reasonable” depends on the context and varies from state to state. Beneficiaries and other interested parties are entitled to dispute fees they believe to be unreasonable or inappropriate.
- Appeals: Recipients of an unfavorable court decision – including those rendered by a probate court – have a right to pursue an appeal if they conclude the matter was wrongly decided.
Reach Out to Smith Legacy Law Today
Our attorneys possess a broad understanding of the driving factors behind disputes involving Wills, trusts, and estates, as well as the optimal strategies for resolving those conflicts.
From providing an assessment of the merits, potential strategies, and possible outcomes of the litigation, to negotiating, evaluating, and implementing a final settlement, Smith Legacy Law strives to provide a “real world” approach capable of achieving your objectives while balancing the potential risks and rewards.
To learn more, connect with Smith Legacy Law today.
Contact an Experienced Wills, Trusts and Estates Litigation Attorney Today
Disputes involving Wills, trusts, and estates are complex, especially when they arise from an unresolved conflict with someone no longer living.
No matter the nature of the dispute, Smith Legacy Law will work diligently to safeguard your rights and and protect interests, both inside and outside the courtroom.