Are you a trustee, probate executor, or personal representative of an estate? If so, this report is for you!

This report deals with trust and estate litigation, how the overall process works, and the need for litigators in the courtroom proceeding. The way litigators can help their clients and the essential qualities of an attorney for smooth and successful handling of trust and litigation issues. Sierra Crest Business Law Group has experience handling these types of cases, and if you need an experienced Reno Trust Litigation Lawyer, we can help. 

We will dive into the basic guidelines an individual should keep in mind before heading into a legal courtroom proceeding in a courtroom or hiring a professional litigator’s help to win the case. Ultimately, basic categories of trust and estate litigations are discussed based on inheritance or contest. 

Estate litigation crosses into the area of property and land law. Property and land law manages how a person’s property or estate is handled and distributed. Estate litigation can also examine the supervision of an individual’s assets during their life or after their demise or debilitation.”

Trust and Estate Litigation Overview

First, it is helpful to have a definition for Estate Litigation.  

“Estate or Trust Litigation is the process of filing a civil case in Probate Court. The goal of the case is to challenge proper trust creation, asset distribution, or fiduciary handling of trust assets by the trustee.”

The professional and legal structure that owns the right to property of an individual is called a “Trust.” A trust has a lawful duty with a fiduciary responsibility to keep and utilize the assets in its care for someone else’s advantage. The someone else we are talking about is called the “Beneficiary.” According to customary law, also known as Anglo-American regulations, the entity or person who creates a trust is considered a “Settlor.” The person or firm overseeing a trust’s ongoing management is called a “Trustee.” A trustee serves as a fiduciary for the beneficiary party entitled as the owner of that particular asset or property. 

 A “Testamentary Trust” results from directions given inside a “Will” that guides property distribution to beneficiaries at the time of a settlor’s death. 

On the other hand, an “Inter-Vivo Trust” or “Living Trust” is established during the settlor’s life by a legal instrument. This trust can be reversible or irreversible. In the USA, a trust is considered irreversible as the default until the settlor states it is reversible. 

Any settler’s goal should be to enlist a responsible party to oversee the fiduciary responsibilities required when managing a trust. These responsibilities include routine financial management of trust assets, financial reporting, and taxes. In addition, the trust should reimburse the trustee for their time and effort in their services. Trustees govern trusts by the terms and conditions in the trust document. 

In the case of trust litigation, a court can intervene and replace a trustee who is not faithfully fulfilling their responsibilities. In some cases, if the trustee breaks the law, they can be prosecuted in criminal court. In addition, trusts are subject to taxation like any other corporate entity and must follow applicable tax laws.

Estate litigation will strive to establish the net value of assets by adding up all asset values, legal rights, royalties, interest, and properties and subtracting any liabilities. This calculation will give an individual’s net worth represented by a living trust. This valuation is of great importance, especially during bankruptcy.  

Considering the United States bankruptcy law, an individual’s estate comprises all the assets and properties of any sort creditors can access. Some of these possessions are exempted from creditors, allowing individuals to establish or restart their financial lives. In many developed countries, the exemption of assets and possessions depends on multiple aspects, including a particular country’s federal and government laws. 

Most property ownership in common law jurisdictions is fee simple. However, when dealing with Nevada property, someone should consider that a property in a trust or estate might fall under a Nevada Revised Statute that grants “Allodial Titles.” Allodial titles on property and land are complicated and work within homestead laws in Nevada. Allodial titles are not standard in the United States as a whole, but this can be something that needs consideration.  

 Guiding Rules in Estate and Trust Litigations

Guiding rules are essential in estate and trust litigations. Probate court is a time of complex challenges and will test family dynamics. Usually, there are significant monetary stakes at risk. So here are some guiding rules to follow.

  • Try to solve issues before courtroom litigation.

Winning a probate case at the end of the trial is excellent but often lengthy and expensive. Going to court can often be avoided by an experienced attorney who knows the estate law’s ins and outs. The involved parties should consider all possible solutions before taking the long road to a probate court verdict. Good estate litigation attorneys are not there to go to court but to be problem solvers. Financial challenges, delays, and emotional loss are all risks associated with pursuing probate litigation. It benefits everyone if an attorney can shorten the process with wise counsel.

  • Professionals must govern litigations.

A licensed attorney’s skill and expertise must match the case’s specifics. Most lawyers use help and assistance from experts to aid them with estate planning, commercial, corporate, and complicated tax issues.

  • No substitute for experience

There is no substitute for experience! A trust litigation lawyer should be familiar with the specific state laws that govern assets tied up in probate court. Attorneys who have dealt with many cases stand a better chance of achieving a favorable result for their clients. In addition, they should have a strong understanding of the fiduciary rules in play for a specific situation.

  • The need for a Trust and Estate Litigation Advocate

A trust and estate litigation attorney becomes essential when issues arise between the structured distribution of assets and property from owners to their heirs or any other beneficiary specified in a will. An appropriately crafted trust contains all the rules and instructions which clearly define guidelines to avoid future complications. Unfortunately, problems may still arise at times and require the abilities and help of an attorney dealing with estate and trust property distribution.

Reasons behind Trust and Estate legal challenges 

There can be many reasons behind a legal challenge and dispute over property and estate assets that might arise; we discuss a few below:

  1. The settlor lacked legal expertise 

Sometimes, the person who initiated and created the trust may not have had the expertise to do a good job. Usually, this is because they didn’t employ the services of an experienced Trust and Will Attorney. A capable attorney could easily challenge the credibility of the document. It may also be possible that a settlor lacks the mental ability to generate a credible document. To prove that someone is not mentally capable of creating a trust or will require substantial documentation and proof in court.

  1. The originator was under undue influence.

The trust’s settlor or creator might be under someone else’s influence. This influence causes the settlor to distribute property and assets in the will or trust in a way that is not ordinary, basically, because of outside influence and pressure from a third party who did not afford the creator free will to distribute property that makes rational sense. This type of manipulation and influence can fall under elder abuse.

  1. Breach of legal duties

All parties, especially the trust document’s fiduciary, are expected to act by the guidelines specified and founded in the trust document. In this situation, a person may be in breach of contract, and anyone could challenge the actions in court.

  1. Document manipulation and forgery

Many documents arise as completely manipulated and forged, leaving a chance of a public challenge and is also considered unlawful.

Customer’s Challenges and Prospects

Most assume that creating an Estate Trust will ensure the proper management of assets under the guidelines outlined in that trust document. Unfortunately, this is not the case in every situation. Reduced capacities, mixed family structures, sibling conflicts, strangeness to trust bureaucracies among different regions, and a tremendous amount of money in properties and the trust contribute to initiating trust and estate litigation procedures. Even before the property owner’s death, relatives and heirs can engage in questionable practices to gain custody or the property owner’s conservatorship. Litigation involving estate assets can include property, liquid assets, and rare collectibles. Experienced lawyers and litigators have in-depth knowledge and the right internal team to smoothly deal with varying case challenges, such as real estate attorneys, financial taxes, corporate securities, state regulations, blockchain, digital currencies, and intellectual land or assets.

Kinds of Trust and Estate Litigation Clients

Trust and Estate litigation cases deal with the corporate sector and private fiduciaries, individual successors and beneficiaries to the estate, charitable successors and heirs, creditors of the estate, debtors of the estate, custodians, and conservators in a wide range of issues that also comprise of following:

  • Fiduciary responsibility breach
  • Rights of defenseless elder abuse
  • Advantages of monetary exploitation
  • Opportunities of unwarranted influence
  • Exemptions of the absence of testamentary ability
  • Trustee beneficiary quarrels
  • Individual Representative/Executor-Beneficiary clashes
  • Will challenges
  • Will defense
  • Trust challenges
  • Trust defense
  • Implementation of “no contest” sections
  • Understanding of tax provision articles
  • Conservatorship disagreements
  • Guardianship quarrels
  • Protected creditor privileges
  • Unprotected creditor privileges
  • Protection of debtors in contradiction of estate dues
  • Trust management
  • Estate management
  • Pre-litigation preparation

Capabilities of Trust and Estate Litigators

Client-focused litigators must have in-depth familiarity and understanding of the trust and estate laws and their procedures. A capable litigation attorney will work within the Nevada Probate Courts to resolve legal challenges to a will or trust. Probate can often be a lengthy event that can take its toll on a person or family. An attorney can help clients through this challenging time by understanding why issues arise and even diffuse them before they materialize. Extended conflict in Probate Court can be expensive. However, an experienced attorney can often quickly bring cases to an agreeable conclusion.  

The following are primary abilities a litigator must have while dealing with Trust and Estate litigation issues:

  • Efficient 

Some litigators and professional trust and estate law firms only handle non-contested cases. Other firms only take contested cases where litigation is present or imminent. Often, firms do both. Probate cases can be lengthy and usually done in steps. An efficient Nevada Trust Litigation Attorney will help save costs. Sierra Crest Business Law Group has the process and staff to ensure attention to detail on your case.  

  • Multi-jurisdictional Trial Experience

Attorneys dealing with trust and estate lawsuits should have trial experience in the State of Nevada and the federal courts. Probate can be complicated, and an attorney comfortable operating across jurisdictions is critical.

  • Dedication and Involvement

Dedicated litigation attorneys are active in their niche and often write papers or give lectures on topics. They should be in good standing with other associations and may even have certifications. Lawyers participating in such events and seminars get recognized and acknowledged over the globe as the best attorneys in their regions in trust and estate matters.

Conclusion

In conclusion, disputes can still arise with trusts and wills even after careful planning and execution. Usually, the conflict comes from the distribution of trust assets to beneficiaries. In this situation, the role of an experienced trust litigation attorney is crucial to a favorable outcome. Proper litigation in a courtroom has a direct impact on case outcomes. A professional trust litigation law firm can document and formulate a rock-solid game plan. 

Hopefully, now, you know what to look for when hiring a Reno attorney for estate and trust litigation. Nevada probate court has particular must-follow procedures. Since trust litigation deals with property and monetary assets, the attorney must comply with the State of Nevada’s Estate and Trust Litigation rules and previous judgments. With excellent client communication and a solid game plan execution, most clients will experience a favorable outcome.