Fiduciary and estate litigation encompasses lawsuits by and against executors, estate administrators, trustees, persons acting under powers of attorney, and joint signatories to accounts. It also includes will contests, suits to remove or replace trustees, and suits to defend or set aside deeds, contracts, gifts, or other transactions when there are allegations of undue influence or mental incapacity.
Disputes such as these most often arise at or near the end of a person’s life, or at a time when a person becomes ill or mentally incapacitated. Cases can take many forms, but some of the common scenarios are:
- After a loved one dies, it is found that he or she changed a will, made a new will, or destroyed a will shortly before his or her death, unbeknownst to family and friends.
- A family member decides to make a will or a gift at a time when he or she is near the end of his or her life, and afterwards the action is challenged in court.
- After an individual dies, it is found that his or her will has, or is claimed to have, technical errors that make it invalid.
- An individual sells or gives away valuable property after a caretaker has assumed control of his or her affairs. The gift may have been made to the caretaker under circumstances that appear, or are claimed to appear, suspicious.
- A person in charge of another’s property and finances, such as a caretaker, guardian, trustee, or holder of a power of attorney, makes gifts to him or herself or refuses to explain how money has been spent, or is accused of taking money or property.
- A surviving spouse claims an elective share of an estate, and there is a dispute as to the proper amount.
- All cases of this type share common themes of real or imagined self-dealing, abuse of trust, and disregard for another’s wishes. In some cases our clients need help to remedy these abuses. In some cases accusations have been leveled at our clients, and they must defend themselves.
Gentry Locke’s fiduciary and estate litigation attorneys handle all aspects of all sides of these disputes, and stand ready to assist.Have questions? Contact us.