The possibility of probate litigation is always present but, ideally, you want to avoid this process, which promises to lead to a long-and-drawn-out situation.
Siblings seemingly at peace may turn on each other. An executor may be neglecting or abusing his or her duties. Or creditors clamor for the significant amount of money owed to them. Any of these scenarios may spark probate litigation.
Contesting a will, dealing with creditors
Here are further details on the reasons probate litigation occurs:
- The contesting of a will: This may come in many forms. Perhaps an heir was left out of the will but had a legitimate claim to certain assets. Maybe evidence existed of undue influence in which an heir bullied or tricked the testator to sign a will. And maybe the testator signed the will but did not comprehend the document due to a lack of mental capacity. A remarriage also may lead to litigation if the will was not updated.
- Negligence and misconduct of the executor: Breach of the executor’s fiduciary duty is among the top reasons. The interests of an estate must always prevail, but under the guidance of an unscrupulous executor, the estate will suffer. Such behavior may include failing to comply with terms of the will, misappropriation of funds, conflict of interest and self-dealing.
- Dealing with creditors: A couple of scenarios come to mind. Perhaps, creditors have not received the money owed to them due to the executor failing to pay. Also, heirs and beneficiaries may question whether these debts are legitimate.
- Out-of-state property: Some Texans may have additional properties such as vacation homes and condominiums in Florida, Colorado or Montana. Executors must tackle this subject by following the laws of the states where the property is located. Ancillary probate often is the course of action.
Any of these circumstances can lead to probate litigation.
Litigation may be unavoidable
Sometimes, probate litigation is unavoidable especially when neglect, animosity and untold complications surface. When the possibility of litigation surfaces, make sure to consider legal guidance.