Estate lawyers, also known as estate planning attorneys or probate attorneys, specialize in matters related to wills, trusts, and the administration of estates. They assist individuals in planning and managing their assets during their lifetime and ensuring the proper distribution of their assets upon their death. Estate lawyers handle a wide range of disputes that can arise during the estate planning and administration process. Here are some common types of disputes that estate lawyers often handle:
Will contests: One of the most common types of disputes in estate law is a will contest. This occurs when a party challenges the validity of a will, claiming that the testator the person who made the will lacked the mental capacity to execute a will, was unduly influenced by someone else, or that the will was forged or fraudulent.
Trust disputes: Estate lawyers also handle disputes involving trusts, which are legal arrangements where a trustee holds and manages assets on behalf of beneficiaries. Trust disputes can arise due to disagreements over the interpretation of trust provisions, allegations of breach of fiduciary duty by the trustee, or claims of improper administration of the trust.
Guardianship disputes: When an individual becomes incapacitated and is unable to make decisions for them, a guardian may be appointed to manage their personal and financial affairs. Estate lawyers may handle disputes related to the appointment of a guardian, removal of a guardian, or challenges to the actions of a guardian.
Estate administration disputes: After a person passes away, their estate needs to be administered and distributed according to their will or the applicable laws of intestacy. Disputes can arise among beneficiaries or between beneficiaries and the executor or administrator of the estate. These disputes may involve issues such as the valuation and distribution of assets, creditor claims, or allegations of mismanagement by the executor.
Breach of fiduciary duty: Estate lawyers may handle disputes involving allegations of breach of fiduciary duty by trustees, executors, or other individuals with a legal duty to act in the best interests of the estate or its beneficiaries. Breaches can include self-dealing, conflicts of interest, failure to account for assets, or mismanagement of estate affairs.
Elder financial abuse: Estate lawyers often deal with cases involving financial exploitation or abuse of elderly individuals. They may represent elderly clients or their families in pursuing legal action against perpetrators who have taken advantage of the elderly person’s vulnerability to manipulate or misappropriate their assets.
Estate tax disputes: When significant assets are involved, estate tax disputes may arise between the estate and the tax authorities. Estate lawyers assist clients in navigating complex tax laws, resolving disputes over the valuation of assets, and minimizing tax liabilities.
These are just a few examples of the common types of challenging a will disputes that estate lawyers handle. Estate law is a specialized field, and individuals facing any of these disputes or other estate-related issues should consult with an experienced estate lawyer to ensure their rights and interests are protected throughout the legal process.