When a person passes away, the property they owned during their life could become the subject of an ownership dispute. These disputes can lead to litigation that ties up an estate for months or years. An experienced probate attorney can assist with resolving this litigation quickly and effectively.
If you are involved in a court battle over an estate, it is in your best interest to seek out legal counsel right away so that a Coconut Grove estate litigation lawyer can advise you moving forward.
One of the primary types of estate litigation is a will contest, which occurs when a party challenges the validity of the deceased’s last will and testament, if one exists. There are countless grounds for challenging the validity of a will. For example, a challenge could be based on the alleged lack of testamentary capacity. This means that if a party can show that the creator of the will lacked the capacity to make these decisions, the will could be invalidated.
Sometimes an interested party challenges a will because they believe it is fraudulent. A last will and testament is only valid if the creator intended to execute it. If the will was only signed due to fraud, it could be invalidated.
Surviving Spouse Claims
Not every instance of estate litigation is related to a dispute over a will. Florida law provides surviving spouses with certain rights that exist outside of wills or trusts (called the elective share entitlement). When an estate plan attempts to distribute assets that belong to a surviving spouse as a matter of law, litigation is often the result. A Coconut Grove estate litigation attorney can help resolve these issues, which can bring up intense emotions for both sides.
For example, spouses have rights related to the primary residence that they shared with their deceased partner. Spouses are also entitled to a percentage of the estate, regardless of the terms of the will. There can be disagreements over the enforcement of these rights, which can lead to litigation.
Breach of Duty by a Personal Representative
Some disputes related to an estate involve a breach of fiduciary duty. Each estate has a personal representative that is responsible for overseeing the probate process. This representative has an obligation to do what is best for the estate and avoid any conflict of interest. They also have obligations to the beneficiaries and creditors of the estate.
A breach of fiduciary duty is a serious matter. Often, these allegations involve self-dealing that puts the interests of the personal representative over that of the estate. Mismanagement of an estate, or acts of fraud, could result in litigation.
Sometimes, litigation surrounding an alleged breach of duty by a personal representative can stem from poor accounting practices. It is not enough for a personal representative to distribute the estate as required by the will. They must also account for every asset that is held by the estate throughout the probate process. If they fail in these efforts, the creditors or beneficiaries could seek to have the representative replaced with the help of a Coconut Grove estate litigation attorney. In other cases, a lawyer may be able to help a representative push back against accusations of improper actions.
Get Advice from a Coconut Grove Estate Litigation Attorney Today
Disputes over estate issues can be drawn-out, costly, and time-consuming. You should not attempt to handle them on your own. If you believe litigation is necessary, or if someone is dragging you into court, now is the time to seek out the guidance of a Coconut Grove estate litigation lawyer. Reach out to our office right away and get in touch with an experienced legal professional today.