To quote Leo Tolstoy, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Often, legal battles over a person’s estate arise from a family’s distinct internal troubles. Sometimes these disputes lead family members to attempt to change or alter a decedent’s will or trust under suspicious or questionable circumstances. In this blog, we explain how probate litigation works when you attempt to challenge the wrongdoing of others in estate-related matters.
Contesting a Will
Contesting a change to a will can be a messy matter. The successors of an estate are often family members of the deceased, which means other beneficiaries or children aren’t always willing to accept the final wishes of the deceased as they are carried out by the trustee or personal representative. Wills are usually contested by a person who would likely benefit from a change in the trustee or PR, amendments made to the will, or a revocation of the will if it is deemed invalid.
The point of contesting a will is to ensure the intent of the testator is protected. If the contesting party is successful, the court will deny probate to the wrongfully procured will or amendment and/or appoint a new PR. I the event a Trustee is deemed unfit, the Court will terminate and appoint a new trustee. Suspicion often arises from family members when an appointed trustee/PR purchases new cars, boats, houses, or takes exotic vacations.
Sometimes, the terms of a trust or estate are not always clearly stated in the decedent’s will/trust. References made about property or the distribution of assets to beneficiaries can confuse the trustee. Other times, the math used to divide the estate might not actually add up. This can lead to serious allegations against the trustee/PR by the decedent’s family and other beneficiaries, which might require the will to be contested in court. When a trustee/PR is accused of breaching a fiduciary duty or taking unfair advantage, the terms of the will/trust can be contested by beneficiaries or family members of the deceased, or the trustee/PR’s actions can be contested.
Do you need help contesting a will? Contact our Tulsa probate litigation attorney to schedule an appointment to discuss your case.