Estate litigation is litigation involving estates. In the legal world, almost anything involving an estate is a kind of litigation. This shows that there’s no exact definition for estate litigation.
Estate litigation lawyers are often hired to either defend or start litigation actions that were started or defended by a deceased person. Yet, sometimes the dispute does not involve the estate per se: rather, OVER the estate is the root of the dispute.
It is because an estate, by itself, is not considered a legal entity. A collection of stuff that was once owned by a deceased individual is considered an estate. It means that stuff such as personal property, land, and money belonging to a deceased individual is considered an estate.
The categories that fall under estate litigation can be very broad. The categories can be:
Imperfect or incomplete will
One of the major issues in estate litigation is the interpretation of the will. It is because the deceased person is the only perfect witness to it. The problems arising from an imperfect or incomplete will include:
- The will that does not reflect a change of mind from the testator
- A lawyer that misunderstood the stipulations of the will
- A will that left something out
The power of tweaking an incomplete or imperfect will has been given to the Courts. However, the provisions to make Courts do some changes on a deceased person’s will involves recognising testamentary documents such as:
- Napkin notes
All of these documents have to be produced as evidence for the Courts to open up and determine if a will show the testator’s instructions.
If a will is produced, there’s also a strong chance of whether it can be considered valid. The capacity of the testator has to be assessed by a lawyer and have the will signed and witnessed.
The validity of a will is often questioned. “In solemn form” is the legal action to have a will declared as valid. Undue influence or the capacity of the testator is a legal problem that is often questioned by the beneficiaries.
Non-existent or irrelevant will
Jointures and trusts can sometimes be the legal pathway of some testator than making a will. The estate litigation often happens when a beneficiary discovers that the accounts or property owned by the deceased were previously put jointly with other people, such as a sibling.
A beneficiary facing this situation can file a complaint questioning the legality of the joint interest.
Perhaps the most common type of estate litigation is called unfair will. This happens when a child or spouse of the deceased feels that they were not appropriately compensated.
With this scenario, the Courts often provide a child or spouse of a deceased person the opportunity to contest the will. A will that does not appropriately compensate a child or spouse is often seen as a moral or legal violation by the Courts.
The legal issues discussed above of estate litigation provide a bird’s eye view of the situation. As mentioned, the legalities involved in estate litigation are very broad. In every estate litigation situation, the best person to have in your corner is someone specilising in estate litigation.