Estate Litigation Attorney in Arizona
Arizona Estate Litigation Lawyers
When a loved one passes away, family members often have different viewpoints about how the estate, assets and other issues should be handled. Disputes can also arise during the loved one’s lifetime if age or illness forces that person to rely on others to handle their finances.
To resolve those disputes, turn to an experienced and compassionate Arizona estate litigation lawyer.
At Brown & Hobkirk, PLLC our attorneys handle a wide variety of estate litigation cases. We are highly skilled and experienced in resolving probate and trust disputes. When you are dealing with any type of estate dispute in Arizona, our lawyers can help you and your family. We will explore the details about the challenges you’re facing and formulate a strategy that serves your interests.
For more than two decades, we have been helping individuals and families in Arizona handle complex estate litigation matters. Our firm approaches each case with an in-depth understanding of our clients’ needs and goals. That allows us to create a results-oriented plan specific to each client.
Contact us today to speak with an experienced and knowledgeable Arizona estate litigation attorney. We work with families throughout Arizona and have offices in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Chandler, and Tucson. Call today for a consultation.
Disputes That Lead to Estate Litigation
Ideally, a will and trust will ensure that assets are distributed fairly to heirs without conflict. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The estate administration process often causes confusion and heated disputes among family members.
Disputes that result in estate litigation often stem from poor planning or the failure to update estate documents. These common situations can lead to estate litigation when a loved one passes.
A will may be invalid if it is not properly drafted, witnessed and signed. A will can also be contested if a family member suspects undue influence was placed on the deceased at the time the will was composed.
In some cases, a more recent version of a will or trust alters provisions in earlier drafts of the document. When this occurs, the more recent version typically supersedes the older one. However, estate litigation may be required to sort out which document is the controlling version.
Personal Representative or Trustee Misconduct
The Personal Representative or Trustee who administers the estate follows the wishes of the person who has passed away. A Personal Representative or Trustee plays a vital role in the distribution of assets. Sometimes beneficiaries do not approve of how the Personal Representative or Trustee is fulfilling his or her duties or do not trust the Personal Representative or Trustee’s judgment. In some cases, a Personal Representative or Trustee may commit acts of misconduct, fraud or carelessness. These cases often result in estate litigation.
Inheritance disputes are commonly related to these issues:
- Unequal division of assets
- Misinterpretation of the will
- Improper Personal Representative or Trustee actions
- Undue influence or coercion placed on the will’s drafter
- Heirs cutting others out of the will
Inheritance disputes have their own unique set of challenges. If you are involved in an inheritance dispute, it is recommended that you consult with an experienced estate litigation attorney.
Signs of Coercion, Undue Influence, Financial Exploitation
Some beneficiaries believe the loved one who passed away was unduly influenced or coerced into leaving the estate to someone else. Unfortunately, dishonest people sometimes manipulate sick or elderly people into changing their will. Sick or elderly people often have dementia or Alzheimer’s and are not able to make lucid decisions when they create or update estate documents. Any type of coercion, undue influence or financial exploitation can be litigated by family members who feel they should be the recipients of their loved one’s estate.
Disputes over Sudden Incapacitation
As people get older, they face the possibility of dementia and other types of mental incapacity. Illness and other sudden life-threatening situations can leave an elderly person incapacitated. An estate plan should address the possibility of incapacity, but this is not always the case. That lack of clarity can lead to disputes when the person dies.
How Our Attorneys Help Beneficiaries
A “beneficiary” is someone who, according to the terms of the governing trust or will, has a right to receive assets from an estate. If you are a beneficiary, the attorneys at Brown & Hobkirk, PLLC can help you:
- Navigate the process – Having the right tools and instructions in place can make a tremendous difference for you as the beneficiary. Your inheritance is affected by the outcome of this process. The inheritance could be lost if the trustee has unnecessary barriers and cannot effectively perform his or her duties. Our attorneys can work with you if you stand to inherit assets under a trust or will. We can also ensure that the entire estate or trust administration process goes as smoothly as possible.
- Take legal action if problems arise – Disputes among beneficiaries are common. However, a carefully drafted trust can minimize the risk of disputes or address disputes when they do arise.
Beneficiaries typically have the right to:
- Be considered as the recipient of assets in the trust.
- Seek help from the court if the trustee is not properly administering the trust.
- Ask the court to remove a trustee and appoint a new one.
As a beneficiary, many of your rights depend on the trust document’s terms. Trust documents can be extremely complex. Our experienced Arizona estate litigation attorneys have extensive experience in analyzing and interpreting trust documents.
We will examine your trust agreement and determine if your rights have been violated. If a violation has taken place, we will not hesitate to take legal action and force the trustee to pay out the benefits you deserve. Estate litigation might be needed to enforce your rights and hold trustees accountable for their wrongful actions or inactions.
How Our Lawyers Help Personal Representatives
Our attorneys also represent clients who have been named Personal Representatives (also known as Executors in some states) of an estate during the probate process. The Personal Representative of an estate has a number of important duties during probate. Fulfilling these responsibilities generally requires some legal knowledge.
As a Personal Representative, you do not want to let down the deceased person or fail to live up to your duties. This is why it is highly advisable that you get help from our experienced and knowledgeable legal team.
At Brown & Hobkirk PLLC here is how our attorneys can help:
- Answer all your legal questions. If you are considering becoming a Personal Representative, our attorneys can conduct research and review your legal documents before you file them.
- Assist in beginning the probate process. We will help start the probate process and advise you on your duties. At that point, you can decide whether to accept the role of Personal Representative. If you decline that role, the court can appoint an estate administrator.
- Help you comply with all transfers of assets. Our attorneys can help you with the legal requirements related to the transfer of assets. Depending on the type of property that is in the probate estate, you may have a role in the changing of deeds and titles of the deceased’s property. You can then officially transfer the property to those designated in the will.
What to Expect When There Is a Probate Dispute
When someone dies with assets titled in their name, probate may be necessary to administer those assets and deal with outstanding debts and claims against the estate. Probate typically involves organizing property and assets, paying creditors, paying taxes and distributing remaining assets in compliance with the will.
Probate litigation involves the challenging of a will or the will’s provisions. The litigation can also involve the appointment of a personal representative to an estate. Probate litigation can be a lengthy and complex process. That process can become even more expensive and time-consuming when will contests and other probate disputes arise.
Our Arizona probate lawyers will help guide you through the administration of your loved one’s estate. We have helped thousands of clients administer trusts and navigate the probate process.
Our lawyers are here to help every step of the way, whether you are opening an estate through probate, distributing assets or closing the estate. Probate generally involves filing paperwork with the court. Legal obligations along the way make the help and experience of a probate lawyer invaluable. Allow our skilled lawyers to assist with the complicated legal aspects of the probate process. That will permit you to focus on other matters after a loved one’s passing.
Talk to Our Arizona Estate Litigation Lawyers Now
Estate litigation often involves highly charged, emotional disputes. It is crucial that you have a supportive attorney who will understand your concerns and needs. The experienced Arizona estate litigation lawyers at Brown & Hobkirk, PLLC can help you approach your case in a manner that minimizes disputes and strategically meets your goals. We can represent you in court and help you file a lawsuit to address any estate disputes