Settling an estate or will can be stressful, especially when disagreements among surviving family members arise because of estate disputes. Depending on your situation and the nature and intensity of the fighting over an inheritance, you may benefit by speaking with an experienced probate attorney about what’s happening and what your options are.
What Is Probate Law?
The probate process establishes the legal validity of a will, settles the financial obligations of the deceased, pays taxes and debts to creditors, and distributes assets to beneficiaries. If the deceased names a trustee or executor of his or her will, that person has a legal obligation to represent the deceased individual and settle his or her affairs. If the deceased did not name an executor, the court appoints a person known as an administrator to handle similar duties.
Reasons Disputes Arise
- The administrator or executor fails to perform his or her duties because of incompetence, bad judgment or illness;
- Different versions of the will emerge, and beneficiaries contest which version the court should honor;
- Allegations surface that the deceased composed or altered the will while not of sound mind or while under pressure or duress;
- A beneficiary or creditor fails to respect the terms established by the will or the instructions of the executor or administrator. For instance, the brother of the deceased removes several valuable paintings from the house prior to the completion of probate and in direct violation of the executor’s instructions.
- There’s a fight over the specific language used in the will or trust that the court must adjudicate;
- Claims and counterclaims occur together. For instance, a beneficiary and executor at cross-purposes might accuse each other of wrongdoing. The beneficiary says the executor violated his fiduciary duty by concealing information about the estate and its accounts and debits. The executor responds that the beneficiary has illegally attempted to appropriate property that belongs to the estate.
How Can a Probate Attorney in Pasadena Help?
An experienced lawyer can assess exactly what’s gone wrong with the probate process and compel a fair outcome. Contact us for a confidential consultation about your options. Whether you’re an executor frustrated by the rowdy or abrasive behavior of a beneficiary or you’re a beneficiary who believes the will was written under duress and thus should be ignored by the court, we can develop an effective, systematic plan.