Regarding Estate Administration and Litigation

Estate administrators or executors have many responsibilities to meet. They may need an experienced attorney to guide them and to help ensure that all the details are taken care of properly. 

Administrator Duties

Administrator duties may include:

  • Notifying beneficiaries
  • Notifying creditors
  • Providing notice
  • Paying debts
  • Going through probate
  • Handling claims
  • Filing all the required documents
  • Probating the will
  • Filing state and federal estate tax returns, when necessary 

There are many other duties that an executor or administrator must perform, as well.

Executors and administrators are expected to adhere to a very high standard of care when performing these duties. They are not legally obligated to engage an estate administration attorney. However, doing so can be very advantageous. Attorneys can help administrators and executors perform a potentially overwhelming series of tasks.

Estate Litigation

At various points during estate administration, disputes over how an estate should be handled can arise. Estate administrators and executors have a legal obligation to perform their duties with a high standard of care. That includes the responsibility to avoid wasteful spending. Sadly, they don’t always meet their obligations. 

In some cases, administrators or executors may spend too much due to honest mistakes in performing their duties. In other circumstances, wasteful spending may result from outright fraud on the part of the administrator or executor. Therefore, to avoid excess spending, any individual with a personal financial interest in the estate can file a lawsuit against an administrator or executor who has failed in fulfilling his or her obligations.

Will Contests

Will contests can arise when an individual with a personal interest in a will believes that the will is invalid. There are numerous reasons an individual may challenge a will. Some are complicated and require effort to prove, so if you want to contest a will, you may need the help of an experienced estate litigation attorney.

Challenging a Will

It is usually very challenging to contest a will. The vast majority of wills pass through probate court without an issue. The court views a will as the voice of the testator, or the person who wrote the will. That person is no longer here to share his or her wishes, so courts typically stick stringently to the will. However, any individuals who may have an interest in,or stands to gain from the will can challenge it. 

Spouses are the most successful will-challengers. Additionally, the most successful grounds to challenge a will are that the testate lacked testamentary capacity at the time the will was written, or that individual was unduly persuaded or influenced to write his or her will a specific way.

If you are successful in challenging a will, it can be voided entirely or just partially. In some cases, a provision from a previous will may be reinstated. However, If the whole will is voided, the court can distribute the property and assets as if no will had ever existed. Then, the distribution of the property and assets follows intestacy laws and is led by familial relationships.