Sadly, handling the estate of someone who has died sometimes involves conflict. There are several ways in which estate administration can become complicated or difficult. In many cases, the process of estate administration is drawn out because of disputes between the parties involved. These disputes may be based on legitimate concerns. But in some instances, arguments are the result of greed, deceit, or a sense of unfairness or entitlement.
Handling the administration of an estate in California requires specific knowledge of the state’s laws and regulations. For this reason, it is critical to contact a skilled legal professional if you are dealing with a beneficiary dispute.
Following the death of a loved one, it is normal for families to experience intense emotions. If family members feel cheated or slighted, they may decide to challenge the validity of the decedent’s will.
Even if your deceased family member planned their estate thoughtfully, disputes can arise when emotions are high. If you need legal representation during an estate-related disagreement, reach out to the compassionate professionals at Loew Law Group.
Understanding Beneficiary Disputes
When there is a disagreement involving the identity or role of a beneficiary, there are many complex legal issues to consider. Some of the most common reasons for beneficiary disputes include:
- Lack of a named beneficiary
- More than 100% of proceeds designated
- Claims from multiple parties
- Claims by children of multiple marriages
- Questions of mental competency regarding a beneficiary change
- Fraudulent beneficiary changes or changes procured through undue influence
- Lack of proper estate planning records
If a beneficiary dispute cannot be resolved through mediation, a lawsuit and even a trial may be necessary. Whether a claim proceeds to trial or not, it is critical for the involved parties to secure competent legal representation.
Litigation regarding the administration of an estate plan may require a trial (often referred to as an evidentiary hearing) in California’s probate court system. These trials and hearings will require detailed discussions of the facts and evidence related to the case.
In the state of California, only certain parties have a claim to bring action regarding an estate plan. Those who are legally entitled to bring this type of claim have “standing.”
For instance, the surviving spouse or adult children of the deceased will have the standing to pursue a claim. With the help of a knowledgeable attorney, these parties can petition the courts for an order confirming their legal interest in the estate or trust.
Avoiding the Probate Process
When you have lost a loved one or family member, you should not have to deal by yourself with the emotional and financial toll of the legal probate process. By hiring a skilled legal representative, you can help your loved one’s wishes be carried out appropriately.
An accomplished estate dispute attorney at Loew Law Group will help you explore options for avoiding the probate process. For instance, property that is held in a trust is not required to undergo this process. Similarly, small estates are not subject to probate.
Avoiding this process can save your family time and money. If a beneficiary dispute arises, it is even more important to take the necessary steps to recover as much of the inheritance as possible.
For instance, in some cases the decedent’s spouse may file a Spousal Property Petition to try to avoid the probate process. The family of the decedent may dispute the spouse’s right to some portion of the decedent’s property or assets.
This type of dispute can also occur outside the context of a formal probate process. Regardless of the circumstances of your beneficiary dispute claim, it is vital to secure the services of an accomplished legal professional.
Other Types of Inheritance Disputes
There are many different types of inheritance disputes that may arise after someone’s death. For example, the executor or trustee may fail to properly carry out the wishes of the deceased person or fail to administer the assets fairly and effectively.
If an executor fails to adhere to their fiduciary duties, a general estate administration dispute may arise. This can result in beneficiaries bringing a claim against the executor of the estate.
Inheritance disputes can arise when:
- Assets were divided improperly
- The decedent was improperly influenced by someone before their death
- The estate plan names a “disqualified person” as the beneficiary, such as a paid caregiver
- There are ambiguities or vague language in the will or trust
If any of these issues have arisen in the aftermath of a loved one’s death, do not hesitate to investigate and explore your rights. Make sure to consult with an attorney to explore your legal options.
Reach Out to Loew Law Group
For any questions regarding your beneficiary dispute case, please contact our firm. Our estate litigation attorneys have the skills and knowledge to fight effectively on your behalf. Schedule a legal consultation with an attorney at Loew Law Group as soon as possible.