Probate litigation refers to the legal proceedings associated with a dispute that develops during the probate and estate administration process. In California, the estate administration process must follows the rules in the California Probate Code- Cal. Prob. §1 et seq. It can involve contesting a will, disputing a trust, seeking redress for a breach of fiduciary duty, quieting title to a property, securing property that was wrongfully taken, addressing incapacity, or responding to a tortious interference with an inheritance claim.
What to Know About Probate Lawsuits in California
Not every case will lead to litigation. It’s certainly true that plenty of probate cases are opened, managed, and closed without a conflict in California. But there are also some cases that can be significantly delayed in the closing of an estate due to disputes and lawsuits.
There are many different things to think about in the process of deciding whether or not you need a California probate litigation lawyer. You may be anticipating your involvement or are already dealing with a contested probate matter. In these escalated scenarios it is wise to have the support of someone familiar with the law who can guide you through the process and help you avoid common pitfalls and missteps.
Contested probate matters often mean the same thing as estate litigation. Generally they are referred to conflict associated with the settling of a loved one’s estate. This occurs often in probate when a case is submitted to the courts for estate administration. Not every estate or will may prompt the support of legal counsel in the form of a California probate litigation lawyer but in escalated cases it can make a world of difference to have someone in your corner to guide you through this process.
California Probate Litigation Case Types
Many different routine issues that pop up in California probate after the death of a loved one do not require the assistance of a probate litigator unless one or more of the heirs argues about the validity of the will or management of the estate. Some of these routine issues include admitting a will to probate or appointing executors. However, there are some probate litigation concerns in which having an attorney at your side to help guide you through the process can be instrumental.
This includes issues involving undue influence, lack of capacity, contested accountings, defective trusts and wills, spousal rights and tortious interference with expectation of an inheritance. Claims of undue influence involve allegations that someone close to a loved one unfairly influenced the changing of that loved one’s estate such that it no longer benefits the originally intended beneficiaries. This requires ample evidence that undue influence issues occurred.
Lack of capacity is a related yet different issue arguing that a loved one did not have the mental capacity to understand what they were signing or to sign the document itself as it stands prior to their passing away. Lack of capacity often involves claims that a loved one had diminished mental ability, such as impacts from dementia or Alzheimer’s at the time. Contested accounting probate cases involve claims that an accounting associated with the estate is incorrect and that a probate administrator or other heir was involved in mishandling of assets. Spousal rights including omitted spouses are even more complex and should always be handled by someone who has extensive experience in this field.
No matter how you find yourself in need of the services of a probate litigation attorney serving California, taking action sooner rather than later can make a big difference in the management of your claim and giving you the peace of mind that you have done everything necessary to protect your interests.