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What Is Probate Litigation?

Monday, 27 Dec 2010 03:18 PM

If you have a large estate, scores of movable and immovable properties, bank accounts and gifts, then you are more likely to be engaged in probate litigation. Before going into the details of probate litigation, it is important to know what probate litigation means. As per the probate law, a probate court will identify the assets of the deceased, decide on the payment of taxes and other incidental expenses, and distribute the property among the legal heirs as mentioned in the will.
A will is a document written and signed by the deceased with the attestation of witnesses. It is the document that specifies how the beneficiaries should distribute the property among themselves.
It should now be clear that probate litigation is nothing but “contesting a will.” A will can be contested on various grounds. The below-mentioned points are the most common reasons to contest a will on:
  • Some of the beneficiaries are not given an inventory of the property
  • Claims of undue influence
  • One of the beneficiaries enjoying the full benefits
  • Differences of opinion over guardianships and conservatorships
  • One of the beneficiaries failing to do his or her fiduciary duties
  • Details about the creditors not disclosed
  • Dispute as to who can take over as the personal representative. A personal representative is a bank or trust appointed by the probate court to administer the estate.
Why are wills and probate considered to be important? Here are some of the reasons:
  • To avoid dispute among family members
  • To arrive at an amicable solution
  • To make sure that all the heirs benefit
  • To safeguard the wealth
  • To get maximum benefit from the property
  • To resolve tax liabilities
The law of limitation is strictly applicable to probate litigation. Even if there is a very valid claim, the probate court will not proceed with the case if it surpasses the time limit. Therefore, seeking legal counsel as soon as possible is highly recommended in the case of wills and probates.
Keep in mind that it is not easy to deal with wills and probate; a number of issues are involved. It could ruin the very foundation of the family and the very fabric of relationships. However, probate litigation becomes inevitable when all efforts of diplomacy have failed.

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