Today we are going to talk about what probate and trust litigation is.
In its simplest form, probate and trust litigation address, what happens to a person’s stuff when they die. Probate and trust litigation is about who gets control of a person’s assets and who ultimately receives them as an inheritance.
The difference between probate litigation and trust litigation is the difference between having a will or not having a will or estate plan that includes a family trust; when someone dies. If someone dies and only left a will, that still goes to probate.
Suppose somebody sat down with an estate planning attorney and prepared a family trust. In that case, everything is in the trust arena, and if there’s a dispute about the trust, then that would be called “trust litigation “or a “trust dispute.”
When you’re in probate litigation or trust litigation, what are the typical disputes?
In probate litigation, the disagreement is typically about who gets to control the assets and distribute them accordingly. We refer to this role as the “executor” of the will or the person who will push the process through probate court. There might need to be a “special representative” appointed if there is no will.
On the trust side, the question is who should be the “trustee” responsible for administering the trust. Often, people affected by the trust will feel that the trustee is not acting faithfully in their duties regarding the assets in the trust. Perhaps the trustee is misusing the trust property for their gain.
Another issue that comes up in probate and trust litigation, of course, is who gets the stuff. There can be confusion, and in the case of ambiguity, litigation can ensue. Two people can read the trust or will differently, and this often will result in a dispute.
Thirdly, someone might feel that the person who helped or influenced the loved one to create a trust or will, took advantage of them. When a loved one signed a new will or trust on their deathbed, leaving all their assets to an individual, was it proper? Maybe the dying person had a decline in mental capacity and was unable to make such a document. Did a person have the ability to apply undue pressure and influence? This argument usually falls under the concept of elder abuse.
Each probate and trust litigation case has its unique issues. If you have questions or need an trust litigation attorney who practices in the probate and trust litigation area, give Sierra Crest Business Law Group a call at 775-448-6070