Probate litigation refers to obtaining legal assistance to resolve conflict surrounding inheritance assets. Heirs or beneficiaries must retain the services of a probate attorney in order to contest the decedent's last will. Probate litigation is oftentimes required when decedents die intestate (without a Will).
Probate litigation can prolong the probate process for months or years. I know a woman whose stepfather passed away without executing a Will. Although single at the time of his death, four of his six ex-wives came forward to lay claim to his estate.
By probate law, his surviving children took precedence over inheritance property, but these women claimed they loaned money to the decedent and wanted to be reimbursed. In the end, the claims were deemed frivolous as my friend was able to provide evidence the debts had been repaid. The process to provide proof cost time, money and the assistance of a private detective; paid for through the estate.
In this case, the probate process lasted three years and cost several thousand in attorney fees. The estate was responsible for maintaining real estate holdings and unable to distribute assets to heirs until probate settled.
Not all probate litigation cases are this complex or complicated. The best way to prevent litigation is to establish a trust. This can be accomplished by working with an estate planner or probate lawyer. Trusts are generally reserved for estates valued over $100,000, but options exist to protect smaller estates.
Estate planning can be as simple as executing a basic Will. However, individuals should also appoint Power of Attorney authority to a trusted individual and execute a Healthcare Proxy. POA authorizes a person to sign legal and medical documents and make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. Healthcare proxies state what type of medical treatment you do or do not wish to have.
It's a good idea to engage in estate planning when you are in good health. If you wait until you are in poor health or under the influence of medications, heirs can contest the Will based on the fact that you were not of sound mind when signing the documents.
If probate litigation is unavoidable, it is best to arrange an out-of-court settlement. This can lower legal expenses and reduce the time assets are held in probate.
If you are in the midst of probate litigation or need cash for inheritance, I may have a solution for you. Enter information regarding your situation at our Probate and Cash for Inheritance form. Upon receipt of your information I will personally contact you to discuss your situation.
If you would like to learn more about estate planning, creating a last will and testament, inheritance laws, probate and probate litigation visit our probate article library. New articles are added weekly, so take a moment to subscribe by entering your email address in the right sidebar.
Published on October 04, 2009 at 01:30 AM
| | Printer friendly