Probate Litigation

In Delaware, one of the things that can significantly slow down the administration of a loved one’s estate are any concerns that arise around will contests or other types of probate litigation. There are many different reasons that these types of cases can unfold and in all of them, it is beneficial for a personal representative serving in this role to understand what this looks like. Note that any litigation during the estate administration process must be initiated by an interested party in the Delaware Chancery Court that has jurisdiction over the estate.

A probate litigation lawyer in Delaware should be retained as soon as possible after a dispute arises. Another reason to work with a probate litigation attorney in Delaware is because you are a beneficiary who believes that wrongful actions have occurred in the administration of the estate or you have strong reasons to believe that the will presented to court is not valid.

Probate litigation occurs when any interested party raises a dispute or makes a claim during a probate process. In all of these circumstances, having an attorney to help answer questions and prepare documentation for filing is critical in minimizing problems and mistakes.

How Probate Litigation Impacts a Case in Delaware

In most situations, probate in Delaware will take anywhere from six to 11 months to close out someone’s estate. Any point in that process

Understanding Probate Litigation in Delaware

Delaware formally recognizes a person to manage the deceased’s estate through the probate process. Most wills name a personal representative or an executor. If a decedent did not have a will, however, the state will select an administrator. The formal process of probate in Delaware begins when the executor submits the death certificate to the register of wills. If no will exists, then the petition will be considered a registration. The court then verifies the authenticity of the will or verifies that the petitioner is a qualified administrator when a will doesn’t exist. The administrator or executor then pays a fee and receives documentation proving that they officially represent the estate. Probate litigation emerges when an interested party believes that wrong occurred at some point in the process.

Examples of Probate Litigation

In general, litigation involving probate can refer to any situation when a contest or claim is raised directly in relation to the validity of documents or how someone’s estate is being probated at the time.

Probate litigation can happen at any point during the probating of a person’s estate. This can happen if:

  • If no will exists and the family is unable to come to terms about who should serve as administrator, disputes can result in a contested hearing because the decision maker only has a short period of time for evidence and testimony.
  • In those cases in which an interested party wishes to challenge the validity of the entire will, this can prompt a will contest dispute.
  • Executor fee disputes can happen when an interested party to the estate believes that the personal representative has overcharged for the role that they served. This requires going to court and making a case to allow the judge to demand for fees to be returned.
  • If a will forms a trust, there may be disputes over the trustee’s appointment leading to a probate litigation case for trustee removal.
  • Guardianship issues can also cause conflicts that lead to court hearings.
  • Formal accounting probate disputes can occur when an executor is believed to not be providing adequate information.

Surviving spouse elective share arguments can happen when a surviving spouse exercises the right to claim a portion of the estate. Any of these questions around probate litigation can be overwhelming and can add to the strain of processing the loss of a loved one. Any administrator of an estate who is serving as a personal representative, needs to be empowered with the information about how these cases evolve and what can be done to minimize the possibility of further expenses and time investment occurring as a result of handling these disputes. In all of these cases, an attorney should be retained as soon as possible.

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