At Ball & Barry Law, our attorneys have experience handling disputes that arise as a result of wills, trusts, estates, and inheritances. Probate litigation usually involves a will dispute or other disagreement about how a deceased person’s estate should be disseminated. A family dispute is at the source of many disagreements, but that is not always the case. Others who were close to the deceased individual oftentimes also have reasons to engage in a will contest or similar litigation.
Partners David Ball and Michael Barry discuss the firm's Probate and Probate Litigation experience.
Of the contested situations, this is one that occurs quite often. In the case of a will contest, one or more individuals do not believe that the will is valid and that, as a result, the amount or type of inheritance should be changed.
If basic rules were not followed during the will’s execution, such as the now-deceased person being under 18 years old when the will was written, or that the will was not signed by two witnesses, taking care of the will dispute will be relatively straightforward.
Proving that something like fraud, incapacity or undue influence caused the will to be invalid is not as simple. Fraud can occur when the documents themselves were illegally altered, incapacity happens when the will’s creator did not fully understand what was occurring when he or she signed the will, and individuals engage in undue influence when they take advantage of their relationship with the person writing the will.
In this case, no will exists, and eligible aspects of an estate are passed on to certain individuals by law. For example, the children of an unmarried individual who died intestate will receive everything. Conversely, if a spouse is living, but no other descendants such as children or parents are alive, the spouse receives the full inheritance. Other scenarios result in different outcomes.
Although many think of prenuptial agreements as being signed with the possibility of divorce in mind, the financial situation that results when a spouse dies without a prenup having been signed can be just as messy, even more so in many situations. The services of a probate attorney should be utilized in this situation in order to ensure that the estate is fairly disseminated.
If the deceased person has debts, a trustee, personal representative or probate attorney will determine which debts should be taken care of fully. If it is not possible to do this for all creditors, an attorney can help conclude which ones should receive partial payments and how much those should be.
If you are involved in probate litigation as a result of a family dispute or a disagreement with an unrelated personal representative or other entity, contact one of the attorneys at BBU. We will discuss your situation, and help you determine the best plan of action.