The loss of a loved one can be a terrible burden. A dispute over their estate can add unnecessary stress to your life. At the Law Offices of Stephen J. Hoffmann, we can help. We assist in a wide range of probate litigation issues including trust contests and will contests.
There are several reasons someone may want to litigate over a probate issue. Some common issues include:
- Different interpretation of the language in a will
- One may contest a will arguing that it is the product of someone exerting undue influence, the person did not have the mental capacity to make the will at the time it was made, or the will failed to meet all the required formalities.
- Removal of the personal representative (or executor), because that person is not fulfilling his or her duties under the will and/or the probate law
- To recover jointly held assets in the estate in the hope of having those assets more fairly distributed
An issue may arise in cases where there is a “no-contest” clause within the will. Such a clause usually states that if an individual named in the will challenges that will, the individual will lose rights to receive under the will. While these clauses are common, it is important to understand that courts narrowly construe such clauses. Therefore, these clauses are usually not enforced if a contest is brought in good faith.
The grounds for a trust contest are similiar to a will contest except that the testamentary instrument at issue is a revocable living trust instead of a will. Trust litigation involves the breach of trust by a trustee who violates his or her fiduciary duties owed to other beneficiaries of the trust. The probate code list may specific duties owed by trustees to beneficiaries. The breach of these statutory duties constitutes a breach of trust. In some cases trust litigation involves removal of the fiduciary by some other beneficiary. It may also seek the surcharge of the fiduciary who has inappropriately taken money or property.
If you have a probate litigation matter or you wish to contest a will or a trust, then Contact Us at the Law Offices of Stephen J. Hoffmann for a free consultation.