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Is Estate Planning a Litigation?

Bochnewich April 16, 2022

Estate planning doesn’t automatically imply litigation. Poor estate planning, however, can lead to probate litigation after you pass away. This is why having a proper will and executor and/or a trust with a dependable trustee is important for preventing litigation after you pass away. Using a trusted lawyer is vital in your estate planning process, as emotions can stir and cause disputes after death if a will or trust is not written and carried out properly beforehand.

Common Situations that Lead to Estate Litigation

You would hope that there would be no issues handling your estate after you pass away, but there are many reasons that litigation happens during the probate process. While litigation is often not the route most want to take when it comes to the probate process, there are a few common situations that lead to estate litigation.

  • A disagreement with a will can cause estate litigation if it is not written and processed correctly, rendering it invalid. A will can also be contested if it seems there was inappropriate influence over the writer of the will.

  • Your loved ones may be familiar with an earlier version of your will that is outdated. This can cause litigation to sort out any of the complexities of this situation, as family members may be emotional and feel entitled to the provisions in the earlier document.

  • It is essential to choose an exemplary executor for your estate. Poor handling of an estate can lead to a probate claim against the executor to recover any damages.

  • If your will disagrees with what you’ve verbally agreed to give one of your beneficiaries, they may dispute your estate. The beneficiary will often choose to make sure they are getting what they feel they deserve to get from their inheritance.

  • If the deceased was mentally incapable of making changes to their will before death, there may be signs that the descendent was coerced into making changes in the will. This may be disputed if family members or loved ones believe that the deceased was taken advantage of.

  • The easiest way to cause estate litigation is to have no will at all, likely due to sudden death. It is important to work with a trusted professional on a will that executes all your wishes earlier than later. Unfortunately, life can throw curve balls at us that we don’t expect, and being prepared is a great way to ease the stress of your family when you pass away.

How a Lawyer Can Help a Beneficiary

If you’re a beneficiary, you may want to make sure you are receiving all the assets of the estate to which you are entitled. It can be hard to understand the probate process, but an experienced lawyer can be your guide. There are a few ways a lawyer can help a beneficiary in the probate process.

  • If you want to make sure you are communicating correctly with the executor of the will or an attorney on the case, you may want to have a lawyer who handles the communication in a professional manner on your case. It’s important to have excellent communication during the probate process to make sure you are getting that to which you are entitled.

  • The probate process can be lengthy and stressful for family members and loved ones. If you believe you aren’t receiving what you’re entitled to in the will, it’s important to talk to a lawyer. A lawyer can make sure that the estate isn’t being mismanaged by the executor and that you’re getting all that you’re entitled to in the will.

  • Executors are in charge of appropriating assets in the probate process. You may feel you haven’t been allocated the assets you deserve. If this is the case, the assets of your loved one could be mismanaged. A lawyer can help you determine if assets are being mismanaged and help you receive your allocated property, as well as have the executor of the will removed and replaced with someone who can properly handle the estate.

How a Lawyer Can Help an Executor

Beneficiaries aren’t the only parties in an estate case that can need legal assistance. An executor of the will could require assistance with estate litigation from a lawyer. There are a few ways a lawyer can help an executor.

  • It’s essential to have a lawyer for communication if a beneficiary decides they are worried about the allocation of property. A lawyer can minimize the claim from going any further by using clear, planned, and strategic language.

  • Being an executor of a will is a large responsibility, and there are many rules and regulations in the probate process. This is why the process is lengthy, complex, and stressful. It’s vital to have a lawyer by your side to ensure you are properly paying debts, taxes, and allocating property. Having a lawyer can take some of the stress out of handling the rules and regulations of the probate process.

  • A beneficiary could feel they haven’t been given what they deserve from the estate. If this happens, they could start probate litigation. A lawyer is able to help determine if the claim made by the beneficiary is valid, and they can assist in representing your side of the case.

Estate planning is a complex process, even after death. While a will helps this process go smoother, the probate process can still take a long period of time. As family members cope with emotional trauma and other items, disputes about the assets of a loved one can occur. When this happens, estate litigation takes place. If there is any inkling of mismanagement or incorrect allocation of property, a beneficiary can make a claim. A lawyer is essential to ensuring an executor can carry out the will properly and protect themselves. Overall, there are ways to help prevent estate litigation, but an excellent lawyer is necessary for the process. At Bochnewich Law Offices, you can trust that your estate or litigation case will be handled with the utmost care. Contact us today to get in touch with one of our experienced attorneys.