Any time a resident of Coral Way dies, their family will have to take care of their personal affairs. This is often done through probate court as part of the estate administration process. In some cases, this process can result in disputes and even litigation.
If you are experiencing such a dispute, a skilled probate attorney can help. It can be challenging to litigate a dispute over a trust or a last will and testament (if one exists), but it is in your best interest to rely on the guidance of a Coral Way estate litigation lawyer.
Contesting a Will
Will contests are the most common type of litigation involving an estate. These contests can occur in several ways but they are typically filed by beneficiaries of the will or parties who expected to be beneficiaries. A Coral Way estate litigation attorney can help a potential beneficiary challenge a will for the following reasons.
Lack of Capacity
For a will to be valid, the creator must have the legal capacity at the time to make one. Capacity is the ability to understand the consequences of a will and appreciate the nature of their decision. In other words, a person who does not understand the terms of a will or the impact of the document lacks the capacity needed to create one. Lack of capacity is common grounds for estate litigation.
Lack of Formalities
The term “formalities” describes the technical requirements that must be met for an estate planning document like a last will and testament to be valid. According to state law, a person creating a will must sign the document in front of two witnesses. Failure to comply with these formalities can mean the document has no power.
Even when a party had the capacity to make or alter a will, the document is not considered valid if there was undue influence present. Undue influence occurs when a person substitutes their own decision-making in the place of the will creator. The law assumes undue influence is present in cases where a beneficiary of the will (who holds a confidential relationship with the creator) was active in outlining its terms.
Litigation Involving Estate Executors
There are also times when those tasked with administrating the estate can run into challenges. The executor (or personal administrator) is the party that oversees the entire process, from paying creditors to distributing estate assets.
The law requires these executors to uphold certain legal duties which they owe to the state and to any beneficiaries. These duties include focusing on the interests of the estate instead of their own and providing a clear accounting of how they used estate resources during the process.
A Coral Way estate litigation attorney can carefully review the work of an executor to determine if they upheld each of these duties. If it appears they did not, an attorney could hold them accountable through litigation – or, alternatively, defend an executor against litigation from a potential beneficiary.
Call a Coral Way Estate Litigation Attorney Today
While no one wants to face the possibility of a court dispute, there are times when they are unavoidable. It is crucial for you to have legal counsel that can protect your rights and the wishes of your loved one after their passing. The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm is here for you. Reach out to a Coral Way estate litigation lawyer to get started with a free consultation.