Estate Litigation Lawyer Mission Viejo CA
If you believe that your loved one’s will should be legally challenged or at least reviewed, you should speak to our estate litigation lawyer Mission Viejo, CA believes in. Although litigation can prolong the probate process, it may be necessary when challenging a will. An experienced wills and estates lawyer can assist you through the proceedings and address all of your questions and concerns.
Common Reasons for Estate Litigation
In a perfect world, heirs would always receive their assets formally handed down to them within a will quickly and smoothly. Unfortunately, it is not that easy and does not always work out that way. Some family members may decide to contest the will for one reason or another, which can prolong the timeline of receiving those important assets. Here are some common reasons for estate litigation:
- Undue influence. If a person has reason to believe that a will was created under duress, then it is possible that undue influence may have been involved. If undue influence appears to have taken place, he or she may decide to challenge that will in court. People may try to unduly influence a testator to gain more stake in the person’s estate. They may use various tactics to manipulate the testator, such as intimidation, physical violence or emotional abuse.
- The provisions of the will do not correspond with state law. In order for a will to be considered valid in court, it must be in accordance with state law. If there is even one error, the judge could deem the document invalid. That is why it is essential to work with an estate planning lawyer that is experienced and knowledgeable in this part of the law. A qualified lawyer will keep up with the frequently changing estate laws in California and ensure the will is valid.
- The testator did not have testamentary capacity. An estate litigation lawyer Mission Viejo, CA can trust, will confirm that a will is only considered valid if the creator had testamentary capacity during the signing. The creator must be at least 18 years of age and possess the mental capacity to fully understand what he or she is doing. If there is reason to suspect that the creator suffered from dementia or any other degenerative mental condition, an induvial may have grounds to challenge the will in probate court.
- There were not enough witnesses to the will. In the state of California, a will has to be signed in the presence of two witnesses. These witnesses are required under state law to understand that they are signing a will and must be of sound mind. If it is discovered that there were not sufficient witnesses that met the minimal state requirements, the will can then be challenged.
How to Prevent Litigation
Going to court to settle the issue of a loved one’s estate is stressful for any person. Estate litigation can diminish the value of someone’s estate, where delays are prevalent. Estates that get caught up in litigation because of questions about the deceased person’s intent can be even more upsetting to grieving families, causing relationships to wither and leaving behind emotional scars.
If you want to help prevent your estate from a dispute or litigation, there are steps you can do now to ensure clarity of intentions and reducing the chances of your assets going through litigation:
Communicate with your heirs.
While it sounds straightforward, many people forget this step. Talk with your beneficiaries and heirs about how you want your assets to be distributed. It isn’t uncommon for a disgruntled relative to be outraged over not receiving what they view as their fair share of the estate. In fact, this is a frequent reason why estate litigation happens. So talk with your heirs so they know what’s to come, and if you want to leave someone out, speak with them privately or at least leave a letter behind so they can understand why later.
Properly prepare your estate documents.
Some people attempt to write their estate plan without help from a lawyer. This is no easy feat, especially since the documents must be legally-binding and enforceable. A leading cause of estate litigation is wills and trusts that weren’t property drafted. There are online programs that can generate a basic estate plan for you, but this is not advised, as it may not cover the full extent of your assets and individual needs.
Review and update your estate plan.
Once you finish writing an estate plan, the work is not yet over. It is suggested that you revisit your estate plan every few years, or as life circumstances change. Your entire estate is vulnerable to undergoing litigation if beneficiaries were not added or removed based on life changes. Examples of instances that may require you to update an estate plan include:
- Births or deaths
- Marriage or divorce
- Vast change in financial status
- Tarnished or new relationships
- Accumulation of more assets
Leave specific instructions behind.
The more precise and specific your estate plan is, the better. In this way, your beneficiaries can clearly see for whom and what is going to be distributed from the estate, and why. Disputes over family heirlooms or personal treasures with sentimental value may cause the administration of assets to be halted. By leaving concise instructions behind, you can reduce the likelihood of an issue arising.
If you want to challenge or retain an attorney to review a will, you should schedule a consultation with our estate litigation lawyer Mission Viejo, CA office promptly to discuss your case in further detail. Call Heritage Law, LLP today!