The disposition of an estate may leave you wondering if you and other potential beneficiaries have been fairly treated. Retaining an estate litigation lawyer may seem dramatic, but it also could be necessary to protect your interests in the estate or those of someone you care about. Let's look at how you can decide if litigation is the right course of action.
Foremost, you should consider whether the stakes are worth it. People often get emotional about the handling of estates, and that can lead to fights over what are relatively low stakes. If there isn't enough money at stake to pay for the services of an estate litigation attorney if you win, then there better be something else worthwhile such as the rights to a business or another thing of value.
It is also a good idea to consult with experts about some features of an estate. For example, collectibles can be difficult to value. If you're not sure whether you want to sue over such things, consult with a couple of experts and then contact an estate litigation lawyer once you're sure it's worth it.
Correctable Legal Wrongs
Generally, a court will only intervene if there is a legal wrong that it has the power to correct. Suppose the executor neglected a key piece of property while it was being sold. The beneficiaries might jointly sue the executor for failing in their fiduciary duty to maintain the property and maximize the distribution to each party. A judge could correct this wrong by ordering the executor to pay damages to the beneficiaries.
A person has standing if they have the legal right to bring a case. This can be challenging in estate law, especially for folks who think they were left out. American estate laws tend to allow grantors to exclude even their biological children from their legacies.
Typically, a plaintiff will have the best chances if they already have evidence of a claim on the estate. Creditors usually have standing if they can document unpaid debts by the deceased, for example.
Finally, there has to be a legal theory to support the suit. In the example involving a negligent executor, the legal theory was the person's fiduciary duty to maximize the value of the estate's distributions to the beneficiaries.
Some legal theories may sound outlandish, but they just need to hold water. Undue influence is a classic legal theory for estate litigation. Suppose the deceased had mental issues and a relative encouraged them to write others out of the will. This might constitute an undue influence.
To find out more, contact a company like The Cormac McEnery Law Firm PLLC.Share