The administration of an estate does not always go smoothly. In some cases, family members feud and everyone pays too much in taxes. In others, the heirs receive little of what their loved one intended for them. However, there are ways to prevent this from happening, even in the most complicated cases.
You need guidance from an estate litigation attorney in Haddonfield to navigate the state’s nuanced estate laws. Only proper legal advice and support can help you ease the process of estate administration once it has gone off course. At Bratton Scott, our estate litigation attorneys are ready to go to work for you. To learn more, call our Haddonfield office at 856-857-6007.
Reliable Support When Estate Administration Turns to Litigation
When family members or other beneficiaries fight over assets in an estate — or the intentions of their deceased loved one in their will — litigation may be the result. Most executors of wills and administrators of estates handle things out of court, and can gather assets, determine values, pay debts and taxes, and distribute the remaining assets without too much of a problem. However, when there are disagreements, things may get ugly. Occasionally, litigation is the only viable option.
We offer compassionate and knowledgeable legal advice and representation to administrators, executors, trustees, guardians, and beneficiaries of estates including surviving spouses, minor children, adult children, parents, special needs adults, and others. We also have social workers on staff who offer caring support and resources for family members who are often still struggling to deal with day-to-day life after the loss of a loved one.
Common Ways Disputes Lead to Estate Litigation
Having a properly drafted and valid will is the best way to reduce the chances of litigation. When there is no will, family members often struggle for assets and control of the estate. Sometimes issues arise even when there is a will. Beneficiaries, other relatives, and creditors do not always agree with what is in the will or how the executor interprets it. Some of the most common ways disputes lead to litigation include:
We often hear claims a particular will is not valid. This is one reason the probate system exists, and having to probate a will greatly reduces the chances of this type of claim. Most wills today contain a signature, two witnesses, and multiple notary stamps. It would be incredibly difficult to fake this type of will. However, invalid will claims still arise.
Arguments Against the Executor or Administrator
In some cases, other beneficiaries or family members will challenge the appointment of the executor or administrator. This is true no matter who appoints him or her, be it the deceased party or the courts. The executor or administrator has a very important job to do, and all the beneficiaries need to be able to trust how this person manages the estate throughout the process.
Lack of Capacity
Lack of capacity occurs if the deceased did not understand what he or she was doing when he or she signed the will. This often occurs if the deceased suffered from a mental health condition, a physical condition that prevents clear thought, or on certain prescription medications.
Undue influence occurs when a single beneficiary or a group of beneficiaries pressured the deceased to offer them a larger portion of the estate in a new will before death.
We can help you contest a will, or defend against another party who contests the validity of your loved one’s will. If the probate and estate administration process is not going as planned, you need to talk to a skilled estate lawyer. Disputes about how to distribute the estate can cost you a lot of money. You need an attorney on your side to protect your interests in the estate and claim the assets you deserve based on the will.
For example, if a parent who recently passed away from Alzheimer’s made major changes to her will within the last year, we will check for undue influence or lack of capacity.
Estate Litigation Representation and Other Related Services
In addition to representing you during estate disputes and litigation, we also have the skills and resources to meet more unique probate litigation needs. No matter what lies at the heart of your dispute, we can analyze your circumstances and form an effective plan to settle the dispute through negotiation or litigation.
We can help you by offering:
- Advice on administration and executor duties
- Interpretation of wills and trusts
- Investigation and resources to get to the bottom of undue influence and incapacity claims
- Help preventing and managing disputes
- Assessment and valuation of assets
- Help with investment decisions
- Demanding estate accounting, or objections to accounting
- The removal of an unfit executor or administrations
- Many other estate dispute-related services
Discuss Your Situation with an Estate Litigation Attorney in Haddonfield
The skilled and knowledgeable estate litigation lawyers from Bratton Scott help New Jersey residents and the beneficiaries of those who lived in the state navigate the estate administration process. We can offer advice and resources to reduce the risk of a dispute, and help you manage a dispute if one occurs. If we cannot reach an agreement out of court, we can litigate your dispute, asking the court to determine the validity of a will or its interpretation.
Call our New Jersey legal team today at 856-857-6007 to request a complimentary consultation.