When a loved one dies it is a very difficult time for the family, they must grieve while also handling that person estate in the way they wanted it to be administered. If it comes to the point that you believe the estate is not being distributed or administered properly, you might be thinking of contesting the payment of that said estate. There is a difference between estate planning and estate litigation. Estate planning is essentially the process that takes place when distributing the assets after a loved one has died. Estate litigation on the other hand means when someone takes another to court (usually the executor) because they feel as if they are not carrying out the Will of the descendant legally or responsibly. This process takes skilled estate litigation attorneys that know the laws of that given state to help prove that the Will is being administered unlawfully.
There is also the situation where one might want to change the Will for a certain reason. This goes hand in hand with contesting the payment of an estate, only difference is this is done before they have passed. A few reasons one might take the testator to court may be:
- Mentally incapable. The person must be mentally capable enough to know what property they have and what they want to do with that property. It would have to be proven the person was not mentally competent at the time the will was made. Loss of memory or declining mental stability at the time of death may not be grounds for such a suit.
- Undue influence. Another reason is if it is believed the testator was influenced unfairly by someone else. A caretaker, a friend, or even a family member, can manipulate the person into a decision he or she did not mean to make. It would have to be proven the person was vulnerable, and then unduly influenced.
- Legal requirements are not met. States have very specific requirements that must be met, and if any requirement is not met the will could be declared invalid. There must be two witnesses, and it must be signed by those witnesses in most cases. Also, online do-it-yourself forms are generally not considered legally binding.
- Fraud or testator changed their mind. If it can be proven the testator changed his mind after writing the will, that can be a legitimate claim against a will. If there was any kind of fraud or tampering with the will, or the testator as he or she wrote the will, that could also be a valid reason to contest a will.
- Changes. If a couple marries and has children from a previous marriage, they may create a will and agree to not change that will after one of them dies. If one does die, and the survivor changes the will to the detriment of some of the heirs, that is another reason to contest a will. This would at least be considered a breach of contract, and that could be used to contest the later will.
The Process of Contesting the Payment of an Estate
This proves will need the help from a skilled estate litigation attorney to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. An estate litigation attorney will help fight for you while also showing the other family members a sense of respect during these trying times. And you need an estate lawyer that is able to do that as these are very delicate legal matters with family issues involved as well, so a fine line must be walked between aggressiveness and respect. These estate litigation attorneys must go to court and show with full confidence an estate is being handles improperly or unlawfully. They will do this by reviewing the Will or estate and the state laws in accordance to it. With that, they will be able to determine what legal grounds you might have to what you are rightfully owed and how the estate is being administered incorrectly. Sometimes, there is the situation whereas the executor did not know they were administering the state incorrectly and unlawfully and when it is brought to light, the situation can be handled quickly and diligently.
An estate litigation attorney is who one needs to call if they are going to contest the payment of an estate. An estate planning attorney can help carry out the Will but it is an estate litigation attorney you need that can fight to make sure you get the assets you deserve if the Will is not being carried out as the testator wanted it to be.
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