Estate planning is the process of planning for the disposition of one’s assets to intended or specified beneficiaries. The ultimate result of estate planning is either Probate administration or assets passing outside of probate. For instance, all assets titled to one’s individual name will pass in accordance with the terms of the Last Will and Testament (without court supervision). Any assets titled to a revocable living trust pass outside of probate. Property titled jointly also passes outside of probate.
Probate litigation usually doesn’t begin long after a person passes and the Last Will and Testament is submitted to the court for probate. Probate litigation occurs within the formal probate administration and can arise for many reasons. The most common reasons for probate litigation are beneficiaries challenging the estate planning documents and/or power holders for undue duress, lack of capacity or breach of fiduciary duties by a personal representative and/or trustee.
Lack of capacity where a decedent was found not to have had the original capacity to execute a last will and testament. Undue duress often occurs with the elderly and involves a position of trust such as a non-familial caregiver named as the beneficiary of an estate a few days prior to that person’s death. In other words, the caregiver may have taken advantage of the weakening health or dementia of the deceased person in order to permeate themselves into a will to the detriment of the rightful heirs. Breach of fiduciary duty is known as any intentional fraud or negligence in the accounting or the distribution of estate and/or trust assets and/or the failure to safeguard estate assets reasonably and prudently.
Contact the Attorneys of The Noble Law Firm, P.A. to assist you with your probate litigation and/or other legal needs.