Some people seek out an estate planning lawyer not because they want to create an estate plan, but because they want to challenge an estate planning tool or decision by beginning litigation. The litigation process in estate planning is very similar to other forms of litigation in that it involves lawsuits, hearings, and settlement negotiations. However, the reasons people begin estate planning litigation are often much less well known than more common litigation topics such as personal injury or medical malpractice. Here are some common questions many people ask about estate litigation in Dallas, Texas.
Question 1. What is estate litigation in Dallas Texas?
An estate is a collection of property, possessions, or money left behind by either a deceased or incapacitated person. For example, if you should become involved in an automobile accident and be rendered unconscious, all of your possessions and interest would be lumped together into your estate. Estate litigation, therefore, is a legal challenge that arises out of those interests.
Question 2. How does estate litigation begin?
Every case is different, but estate litigation most typically arises for one of several reasons. Many estate litigation situations involve the estate of a deceased relative. Every state has laws that determine how family members of a deceased person inherit that person’s property after death. When people create an estate plan, however, they can decide how to leave property on their own. When someone with a large estate dies, people who did not receive the inheritance they expected often seek to challenge the inheritance decisions in court.
In other situations, estate litigation can arise because someone wants to challenge an incapacitated person’s representative. If the court appoints a guardian to manage the affairs of an incapacitated adult, family members or other interested parties might want to challenge that guardian’s decision if, for example, they believe the guardian is not representing the best interests of the incapacitated adult.
Question 3. Who can challenge a will?
Questions about challenging a will are very common. When a family member dies, especially one who leaves behind a large estate, the surviving family members are often interested in determining if the will was legally created and if they are able to challenge it. Will challenges are not always possible, but if someone stood to receive an inheritance if the deceased relative did not have a will, or stood to inherit more through previously written will, that person can often challenge the validity of the will in court.
Question 4. What is trust litigation?
Trust litigation is very similar to estate litigation. In a trust litigation situation, a dispute often erupts over how a trustee manages trust property. Trustees have a responsibility to the beneficiaries to manage trust property in a responsible way. When those beneficiaries disagree with the trustee’s actions they can often seek to resolve the conflict through litigation.