“. . . a will is more apt to be the subject of litigation than any other legal instrument.”
-Leon Jaworski in an address to the American College of Trial Lawyers
In a typical probate proceeding, potential creditors and beneficiaries must be given notice that someone has died and the estate is being administered. Those people who want to contest the will are literally alerted to file objections by the rules of probate court. Dissatisfied heirs can attack the validity of a will by claiming, for example, that the maker lacked mental capacity to understand what they were doing, or that the maker was unduly influenced by another heir. In our experience will contests often arise in the following circumstances:
- A disgruntled child accuses the sibling executor of the will of self-dealing or mishandling the estate money, land or personal property;
- The person who passed away has no close relatives;
- The children from a first marriage are upset with their step parent or step siblings;
- One child in the will is treated more favorably;
- One child cared for the dying parent and the will was changed during that time;
- Someone is named in the will as an heir or to administer the estate that the rest of the family dislikes.
The probate court then becomes the battle ground to litigate these types of family conflicts.
Braun & Gresham, PLLC’s can create a well-designed estate plan using a living trust or with a properly created and executed will to help prevent many of these problems in advance. Unfortunately, when someone challenges the will or the person who is administering the estate then a good trial attorney is needed to resolve the conflicts.
We recently settled a lawsuit brought by an estranged daughter against her brother. Our client is the brother and the executor of the deceased father’s estate. Using our team, with experiences in both trials and wills and probate, we proved the sister had no evidence to support her allegations. Our client is now vindicated and recouped his attorney’s fees.
Our lawyers also bring their unique skills for advocating for our clients who are stewards of their land. With so many families owning land or property as part of their estates, oftentimes there is a dispute as to the use, value or distribution among heirs. If you are faced with any of these situations, please call us for a free consultation.