Frequently Asked Questions about Probate Litigation

The ownership of some assets can make them exempt from probate, and other estate planning techniques can also keep property out of probate court. If you have questions about your estate plan or about avoiding probate, contact us to schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney for straightforward solutions that will work for you.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Probate Litigation

Q: What is probate?

A: Probate is the process by which a court determines whether or not a will is valid.

Q: What is probate litigation?

A: Probate litigation is civil litigation that is concerned with the issues surrounding the probate process, including will contests, estate administration and asset distribution. Probate litigation, like any other litigation, takes place in a courtroom in front of a judge or jury. It is important to understand that the remedies afforded by this type of litigation are limited.

Q: How can an attorney assist me in the probate process?

A: Probate laws vary by state, and the process itself can even vary county by county. A knowledgeable and experienced probate attorney understands the nuances in the law and knows how to staunchly advocate for his or her clients. The ways in which a probated will can result in litigation are numerous. An attorney can explain the proper methods of estate administration and can assist in a will contest or other form of probate litigation.

Q: What is a will contest?

A: Will contests are the most common form of probate litigation. A will contest involves an individual who has something to gain or lose from the invalidation of a will. A will contest can involve a portion of a will or the will in its entirety.

Q: What are grounds for contesting a will?

A: A variety of grounds exist for challenging the validity of a will. Several grounds relate to the mental state of the testator (the deceased author of the will) at the time the will was drafted, the execution of the will itself, whether any undue influence was exerted on the testator that caused a change in the will or whether the testator revoked the will.

Q: If I believe the will of a family member is invalid, how long do I have to find a lawyer and raise my claim?

A: The time varies for when you may make a claim. Certain states require that a contest be raised before the will is probated. Other states require that a claim be made within a reasonable time after the will has been submitted for probate. A knowledgeable probate litigation lawyer in your area will know the time limitations and can assist in timely filing your claim.

Q: I am concerned that the estate administrator is improperly distributing assets. How can I ensure that the estate is being administered correctly?

A: Estate administration problems and improper distribution of assets are two issues that commonly result in probate litigation. An estate administrator must act in good faith and must probate the will and distribute assets as required under the will and by law. If you believe that this is not happening in relation to the will of a family member or other loved one, legal action may be an option for you.

Q: How can I avoid probate litigation?

A: Thorough estate planning may be your best option to avoid probate. Several estate planning tools can allow your estate to pass without the necessity for probate. If you have a will, those must generally be probated. Another way to avoid probate litigation is to ensure an open and honest dialogue with your family members. If they understand your wishes, they are less likely to instigate litigation after your death.

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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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