Handling Post-Death Litigation

post-death litigation blogJust in time for Halloween, here’s a real horror story: An elderly couple met a caregiver through their church, who promptly coerced them to give almost $300,000 in cash and real property to her. With the help of Generation Law, the couple’s adult children fought tooth and nail to recover those assets – and the elderly man died during this arduous process.

The children ultimately took the case to trial, which spanned almost an entire calendar year. The family successfully recovered the lion’s share of the assets, which the children used to care for their mother as she approaches her 93rd birthday. The family says they can’t imagine how they would be taking care of their mom if they hadn’t recovered those assets. Luckily, they don’t have to.

Contending in the courtroom

Tensions can flare when a loved one’s wishes have been manipulated either by coercion or after their death by a trustee or executor. Putting things right most often requires family members duking it out in court, and rare is it that anyone walks away without a bruise. We concentrate part of our practice on helping get you through these bouts – or better yet, avoiding them altogether.

If you find yourself in one of these situations, it’s probably time to call an experienced estate and trust litigator.

  • Fighting for what’s right. An estate plan is not carved in stone, which means manipulative characters can influence a change that may go against the creator’s true intentions. Maybe it’s a new spouse trying to get everything left to them instead of the adult kids from the first marriage. It could be a greedy sibling unwilling to share. Whoever the culprit is, if they’re successful in getting the estate plan of a loved one changed, a trip to court is often the only way to reverse the damage.
  • Replacing a trustee or executor. When a trustee or executor bungles the administration of the wishes left behind by the deceased, it’s time to replace them. A conversation with the offender could make it an easy transition, but if they reject the accusation of mismanaging funds, going to court is the only way to remove them from the role and assign a more responsible person.
  • Defending your decisions. When you have responsibility of a loved one’s things, other family members may think you have all the power and become envious. If you’re accused of acting inappropriately on behalf of the trust or the deceased person’s estate, you may have to defend your actions in court. When that happens, you’ll want a seasoned litigation attorney in your corner.

The best defense against litigation

There’s no guarantee that someone won’t mishandle funds or try to manipulate a situation. One way to help your own loved ones avoid the horrors of litigation is by creating a thorough estate plan with appropriate and competent people to manage things after you are gone.

Need help getting started? We’re just a call away.