What Does an Estate Litigation Lawyer Do?
When a loved one passes away, it can be an emotionally challenging time for their family and friends. Unfortunately, in some cases, there may already be tense relationships between various loved ones or between the dead and their survivors. These existing grudges, resentments, and negative feelings can intensify due to the stress and anxiety of the situation, often leading to poor decision-making when it comes to the management of the deceased individual’s estate.
To ensure that the decedent’s wishes are carried out appropriately and to help resolve issues over money, possessions, property, and other assets, the involvement of an estate litigation lawyer bowie is often necessary. Estate litigation attorneys specialize in handling the legalities of estate administration while also being sensitive to the family dynamics and extreme emotions that may arise during the division of assets.
The Role of an Estate Litigation Lawyer
An experienced estate litigation lawyer is vital in resolving conflicts that often surface when a person dies. They start by explaining the law to the beneficiaries and assisting them in navigating the process of finding a resolution. It’s important to note that estate litigation attorneys don’t solely work for the estate; they also represent each named beneficiary and even third parties with an expressed interest in the estate.
The estate litigation attorney primarily works closely with the estate executor, ensuring that the deceased individual’s wishes are fulfilled. Additionally, they address any circumstances that require attention, including:
- Handling situations where an individual or entity claims a share of the estate.
- Overseeing any family law issues related to the estate.
- Resolving disputes among dependents or other beneficiaries regarding their share of the estate.
- Dealing with issues concerning individuals who have taken assets from the estate without permission.
- Managing the distribution of the estate’s assets.
- Overseeing the management of the estate’s assets.
- Determining the validity of any existing will.
- Interpreting the supplies of the will.
If a recipient hires an estate litigation attorney to signify them, the attorney’s responsibilities include:
- Serving as an arbitrator in managing the estate’s funds.
- Considering exceptional circumstances related to claims to the estate based on dependency.
- Assessing how assets and properties are divided when questioned.
- Assisting a beneficiary in securing specific assets if they believe they have a valid claim.
- Providing input on the validity of a will, if one exists.
In cases where third parties express interest in the estate, the estate litigation attorney must follow the law to determine the validity of their claim and handle it appropriately.
When There Is No Will
While it’s generally understood that having a will is essential, many individuals fail to prepare one before they pass away. Various reasons contribute to this, such as financial constraints, avoidance of contemplating mortality, or unexpected deaths occurring before the need for a will is realized. When an individual dies without a will, it is referred to as dying voiceless, and the state steps in to allocate their assets according to intestate success laws.
When a person dies intestate, the state appoints an administrator to handle the estate’s administration through the probate process. An estate litigation attorney can assist the administrator in submitting the death certificate for government verification, officially confirming the individual’s passing. The attorney also ensures that the administrator meets the qualifications to represent the estate by providing the necessary documentation.
Resolving Unresolved Disputes
In cases where disputes arise and cannot be resolved through negotiation or mediation, probate litigators become more involved in settling the estate. When the deceased person’s loved ones believe that something was done erroneously in the administration of the estate, the estate litigation attorney can step in. Their role is to guide the beneficiaries through the court system to resolve various problems, including:
- Removal of trustees in cases involving a will that forms a trust.
- Formal accounting of expenses and assets.
- Guardianship issues.
- Surviving spousal claims.
- Executor fee disputes.
- Contested wills.
- Administrator appointments.
To reach a decision in difficult cases, estate litigation lawyers follow a series of steps, including:
- Researching and investigating legal details and claims based on the will or estate law.
- Filing the appropriate court petition, providing relevant laws and facts.
- Discovering and examining necessary evidence, such as sworn depositions, bank statements, subpoenas, and other documents.
Before a case goes to trial, a judge classically orders the parties involved to enter into mediation. Mediation is a non-adversarial and non-binding process aimed at resolving issues. The individuals involved meet with a mediator to settle differences without resorting to a full and expensive trial.
If arbitration fails to bring about a resolution, the estate litigation lawyer must formulate for a trial. This involves steps such as:
- Preparing for cross-examination of witnesses.
- Making opening and closing statements.
- Subpoenaing witnesses and obtaining their statements.
- Re-examining evidence.
Trials in estate litigation attorney upper marlboro cases are usually bench trials, presided over by a judge rather than a jury. The trial may span several days, although they may not be consecutive due to the court schedule. If the ruling is unsatisfactory to the parties involved, they can file a petition.