Dallas, Texas Probate & Administration Attorneys
As disgusting as it can be, it’s not uncommon for people to try and steal another’s inheritance. Whether it’s a family member (like a sibling) or someone more remote (like a step-parent or uncle), unfortunately, when someone dies it can bring out the worst in people.
Probate Litigation often involves two (or more) people competing for the same property. Occasionally, it involves overt falsification of documents while other times it is undue influence over a deceased person during their final days. No matter the context, when cases like this arise, you need an attorney who is familiar with the issues and will aggressively defend your rights. The attorneys at the Parvin Law Group can help you.
When is Probate Litigation Necessary?
There could be a number of circumstances that may call for probate litigation. If you suspect probate litigation could be necessary, the best thing to do is get a consultation from an experienced probate attorney. They can review your case and determine what the best course of action is. Some possible scenarios that may necessitate probate litigation include:
- You suspect the will may be invalid or falsified
- The will or other documents were signed at a time when the deceased person may not have had legal capacity
- You believe a family member, a friend, a church, or charity exercised undue influence over a vulnerable person
- Money or other valuables are missing from an estate
- You suspect the executor or a caregiver took possession of or improperly disposed of an asset
- You are concerned about the validity of some creditors’ claims against the estate
The time following the death of a loved one is difficult. Unresolved issues and interpersonal conflicts often surface when an estate enters probate. While no one wants to go to court, it may be necessary if you want access to financial records or force testimony from an unwilling family member or estate representative. Probate litigation will secure a judge’s decision on contentious matters and ensure a level playing field. If you’re thinking about entering probate litigation you’ll want an experienced probate litigation firm in your corner to ensure the best possible outcome.
Has a named trustee died prior to the decedent, so now a new trustee must be appointed? Are there concerns that a trustee is making poor decisions about the investment of the trust assets, resulting in a financial loss? Are the beneficiaries of the trust having difficulties receiving payment or information about the trust? These and other problems can be resolved in trust litigation, with the help of a skillful lawyer.
Reasons for Contesting a Will
In some cases, the contesting of a will is reasonable and valid. In general, there are four categories or reasons for contesting a will in Texas.
- Lack of Testamentary Capacity – If you believe the testator (person who wrote the will) was not of sound body and mind when they wrote the will, and this influenced how they disbursed their property.
- Undue Influence – When a third-party attempts to persuade the testator away from doing something they would naturally do. This may include blackmail or extortion.
- Due Execution – Most wills require a witness and a signature to be valid. When these requirements are missing, the will may be contested for lack of due execution.
- Legal Noncompliance – Wills are considered legal documents. If they do not meet the laws and requirements that mandate how they are drafted, handled, and executed, they may be considered invalid.
Contesting a Power of Attorney
A power of attorney (POA) is one of the most powerful documents in estate planning. With that much power comes the duty to act in the principal’s best interest. Unfortunately, that does not always happen. If an agent is abusing his or her power, and the principal can’t revoke the POA because they are mentally incompetent or unable to, contesting the power of attorney is an option. Some common reasons to contest a power of attorney include:
- The agent is stealing from the principal’s assets
- Agent is mismanaging assets
- Agent is neglecting the principal’s needs entirely
Need Help Navigating Probate Without a Will?
When a loved one dies without a will, the probate and administration process can get a lot more complicated. If there is a conflict between heirs, it only makes the process that much more difficult. Getting guidance from an experienced probate and administration attorney will ease your burden, help resolve conflict, and get you through the process quickly.
Frequently Asked Questions
While each case is different, the majority of all civil legal actions that are filed eventually settle before trial. Because there are no guarantees that your case will settle, it is prudent for your attorney to prepare the case to be decided in court. In almost every case, the attorneys and parties will eventually consider discussion of settlement options and/or mediation (a formal negotiation meeting to discuss settlement). Depending on the case, occasionally, the court will need to approve a settlement between parties.
It’s best to speak to a probate lawyer and ask them. Typically, that lawyer is going to start by examining the Last Will and Testament of the deceased and ascertaining whether the Will allows for “Independent Administration” or administration that is “free from court supervision.” If it does, then it is likely the probate will be a simple process. Even if it does not, however, there are sometimes still options that allow a simplified, independent administration of the estate.
These are the two most commonly asked questions when clients first speak to a lawyer about their case. Bluntly, the answer to each is, “I don’t know.” Various factors exist related to the cost and lengthiness of a litigation that can affect both. Some of those factors relate to the complexity of the issues involved, the manner in which the other party or parties litigate the case, and when the court will hear the case.
If you don’t probate a Will, then certain assets may not be properly transferred and may stay in the name of the deceased. For example, if nothing is done to formally transfer the title from the deceased to the heirs or beneficiaries, then the home will not be able to go up for sale.
While many estates are uncomplicated and resolved with relative ease, occasionally, legal fights break out between loved ones, heirs to estates, creditors, and other property owners. When this happens related to a deceased person’s estate, the parties will often litigate the matter in a court of law. Such cases include a variety of different issues but some of the most common involve claims that a deceased person did not have the requisite mental capacity to execute a Will or Trust, that someone unduly influenced the deceased person regarding the Will or Trust, that a beneficiary or heir is not being given information or distributions or that someone stole from the estate or a fraud has been committed.
First things first, go speak to an attorney who practices probate litigation (our firm does). Be prepared to explain to the attorney generally what has happened, who is involved, and what their claims are. You should do so immediately before doing anything else.