Attorneys Resolving Estate or Trust Litigation
Disputes over estates and trusts are not uncommon. A well-advised executor or trustee may prevent litigation by communicating clearly and lawfully with all interested parties, including beneficiaries and creditors. Sometimes, however, explaining the will or trust and the related processes is not enough. Resentments and accusations may turn into legal threats that can put the executor or trustee in the crosshairs and run the risk of defying the expressed intent of the deceased.
At Flournoy McLain, P.C., we understand the sometimes-sensitive nature of estate and trust administration. It is not only about legal technicalities, but also about family relationships and future financial well-being of intended beneficiaries. Our experienced litigators are ready to protect your interests as well as the estate with which you are concerned.
You may need to bring a will contest if you have strong evidence that your loved one was coerced into making last-minute changes or was not competent when they signed the will under consideration. Or, you may be the executor who needs to protect the will from unwarranted attacks that can greatly delay the administration of the estate for which you are responsible.
We will pursue the most cost-effective method of resolving a will contest on your behalf.
Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claims
A breach of fiduciary duty claim may target a trustee or executor who is managing funds or other valuable property that is part of an estate.
If you have reason to bring such a claim, get legal advice about nipping the problem in the bud, if possible – or bringing a lawsuit if necessary. Alternatively, if you are the one who must handle bank accounts, stocks and other assets while estate administration is underway, get legal counsel if you have been accused of handling your fiduciary duties improperly.
Allegations of Defects in Trust Administration
As a trustee, has someone said that you are acting without proper authority? Is a beneficiary demanding premature distribution of funds? Or, as a beneficiary, do you wonder what to do about a trustee’s questionable actions in connection with trust administration?
Our trust administration attorneys are compassionate as well as highly knowledgeable. We are confident that we can strike the right balance while addressing your concerns through negotiations, alternative dispute resolution or a lawsuit, if necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions About Estate and Trust Litigation
Bring your questions such as those below to your initial consultation with one of our lawyers.
Who can contest a will in Texas?
Anyone who has an interest in an estate may have the standing to bring a will contest. The spouse, a child or a parent of the deceased, a business partner or someone else who can demonstrate that they are or should be a beneficiary may contest a will.
What is a personal representative’s duty of care?
A personal representative has the authority and duty to carry out obligations of the estate and/or steps in the settling of an estate according to a will and/or other testamentary documents.
They should take care of estate property as a prudent person would take of that person’s own property. For example, they may purchase or exchange property, settle debts, receive property due to the estate, settle litigation involving the estate, release liens, insure the property of the estate, pay taxes, follow or obtain court orders regarding property and otherwise fulfill the role as described in state laws.
In estate litigation, a plaintiff may contend that a personal representative breached their duty of care if they failed to do their required tasks correctly. At the same time, a personal representative should seek guidance and, if necessary, defense-side representation.
When should someone seek legal advice during the administration of a trust or estate?
You may be the trustee or executor, or a beneficiary of a will or trust when you sense that something is not right. The time to seek out specific answers from a lawyer is when:
- You realize or suspect that someone else’s actions or omissions threaten the integrity of the process.
- You worry that you may be accused of doing something unethical.
Many people hesitate to make waves among family members at first, even when trust administration or the settling of an estate is heading in the wrong direction. But beware: Waiting may mean that you will lose out on an inheritance that should be yours. To protect your deceased family member’s intentions and your interests, get legal counsel once you suspect that trouble may erupt at any time.
What is the difference between a will contest and challenging a trust?
Many of the issues may be similar in these two circumstances, but a will and a trust are separate testamentary instruments (even when a trust is an addendum of a will). A will goes through probate court, whereas a trust is administered through its own processes outside of probate.
Protect Your Interests as well as an Estate Through Targeted Estate or Trust Litigation
Things can change quickly during probate or trust administration. If something is amiss or if you are exposed to legal challenges, get the legal counsel you need, delivered with the sensitivity appropriate to the deceased person’s wishes.