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Probate & Trust Litigation

What is estate litigation?

People generally don't engage in litigation over a small estate, but instead probate and trust litigation involves large estates, which inherently are more prone to probate or trust litigation. When litigation ensues in regards to a will or a trust, it generally takes two forms. It can be a challenge to the estate planning document itself such as whether a will should be admitted to probate. Or, it can be a challenge with the administration of the estate such as who will serve as a personal representative or a trustee.

Probate is the court-supervised administration of a decedent's estate, which begins with proving the will. The process was established by state law to transfer assets from the decedent's names to his or her beneficiaries. The will is the document that is written and signed by the deceased; this document specifies how the property is to be distributed among the beneficiaries.

Probate litigation is nothing more than "contesting a will." An interested party can contest a will on various grounds including:

  • Claims of undue influence
  • Lack of testamentary capacity
  • Insane delusion
  • Duress
  • Fraud

A will contest is a formal objection that is raised against the validity of a will. This objection is based on the contention that the will does not reflect the testator's (person who made the will) actual wishes. Often times a will contest will argue that the testator lacked testamentary capacity or was under undue influence, or was the subject of fraud.

The person who challenges the will is often referred to as the "contestant" and the contestant can challenge the will in its entirety or in part. Those who have legal standing to contest a will are those named in the face of the will and those who stand to inherit from the testator if the will is proven invalid. Such individuals would usually benefit under Florida's intestate succession laws, which take effect when someone dies without a will.

About Trust Litigation

With trusts, a beneficiary can argue that the trust maker lacked the mental capacity to create the trust, or a challenge with the trust can occur when children or spouses feel as if they were not treated equally as beneficiaries.

Beneficiaries can petition the court to remove a trustee after the trustee has demonstrated a clear abuse or wrongdoing in their fiduciary duties and administration of the trust; for example, if he or she squandered away trust assets through poor investments or if they used the trust's assets for their personal benefit. In such cases the party seeking the trustee's removal must prove that the trustee's conduct amounted to a breach in fiduciary duty. However, a court can also remove a trustee if he or she is unfit and likely to cause harm to the trust for reasons such as habitual substance abuse or lack of ability etc.

Pembroke Pines Probate & Trust Litigation Lawyer

While I try to avoid litigation if at all possible, not all probate and trust litigation can be avoided or is bad. There are certainly times when it's necessary to protect the innocent or someone that has been wronged and therefore litigation is the right legal remedy available under the law.

Are you searching for an attorney to handle your estate litigation matter in Pembroke Pines? With over 40 years of experience handling probate and trust litigation, I am prepared to protect your rights and aggressively fight for justice on your behalf.

 Contact me at the Law Office of Steven Friedman to schedule your free case evaluation at (954) 228-6126!

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