Estate Planning, Probate, & Probate Litigation

What is Probate Litigation?Updating your will

When a loved one passes on, frequently conflicts arise among the trustees, executors, heirs, beneficiaries, or third parties, such as creditors. Sometimes, these conflicts result in formal claims or contests being filed by or against one or more of those parties, which may include one of the following subject matters:

  • Beneficiaries are not given an inventory of the trust or estate property
  • Demand for an accounting or the books and records of trust or estate property
  • Removal of executors, administrators, or trustees
  • Distribution of trust or estate property to beneficiaries or heirs
  • Trust or will creation disputes
  • Claims of undue influence
  • Disputes or differences of opinion over the obligations between power of attorney (an agent to the principal during his or her lifetime) and trustee
  • Challenging, contesting or defending the validity of a will
  • Challenging, contesting or defending the validity of appointment of executor or trustee
  • Challenging, contesting or defending the management of estate or trust funds or investment of trust property
  • Prosecution or defending against Creditors’ claims against deceased person’s probate estate or trust property
  • Prosecuting breaches of (or defending) Fiduciary duties of trustee and executor

Consulting a knowledgeable, competent, and experienced, probate litigation law firm can certainly help parties increase the likelihood to move through these various issues timely, properly, amicably, and cost-efficiently.

Please consult a competent probate attorney in McKinney, Plano, Frisco, Allen, Collin County or the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to advise you on the appropriate option for your particular case.

Probate & Estate Planning, Wills, & Trusts

What happens when someone dies without a will or trust? In Texas, upon death, ownership of the property automatically transfers to the deceased person’s (“decedent”) heirs at law. The story, of course, does not end there. To properly transfer legal title of property or gain access to the decedent’s bank accounts, often third parties require evidence of new ownership.

Evidence of new ownership may be obtained through various means depending on many factors, including the type of property or account, an amount of debt associated with the estate, the size of the estate, and the likelihood of any dispute between the heirs.

When someone passes on without a will (“intestate”), then the decedent’s heirs may consider one of the following options to handle issues concerning title, property transfer, or debts:

  • Judicial Determination of Heirship
  • Affidavit of Heirship
  • Small Estate Affidavit
  • Independent or Dependent Administration of the Estate

The costs and time required to implement the various methods and procedures varies. Frequently, parties tend to delay seeking competent legal advice concerning issues relating to death due to the emotional toll and the perceived costs. However, such delays could result in the loss of certain rights and cause the costs and time to implement otherwise available strategies to increase substantially. As with our health, business, autos, etc.important, planning and preventative maintenance can save a lot of time, money, and aggravation.

Please consult a competent probate attorney in McKinney, Plano, Frisco, Allen, Collin County or the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to advise you on the appropriate option for your specific case.

Guardianship Litigation

When a loved one no longer possesses the competency to handle their own affairs, they may require a guardian to make significant medical and legal decisions for them. It is at this time that a family member will submit an application for guardianship. Sometimes there are facts that may lead to the guardianship being contested. Either by another family member who believes it is not necessary or who believes the applicant is not requesting guardianship in good faith. Whatever the situation, you need a dedicated guardianship attorney who has experience in probate and estate litigation. Call the Lucé Law Firm for trustworthy representation.

Trust Litigation

When a trustee creates terms in a trust, he or she aims to make the document as clear as possible. However, if there are certain circumstances that create a presumption of undue influence, there are vague terms, or the terms of the trust are not being followed, litigation often follows. Trust litigation can be complex, complicated, and stressful. You need an attorney at your side that can help you navigate through the ins and outs of estate law. Our team of trust attorneys has helped countless families through this difficult time. From requesting annual accounting, mishandling of trust funds, or questionable trust terms, we can assist you.

Will Contests

Do you believe that there were suspicious circumstances surrounding the signing of a loved one’s will? Was the will changed unexpectedly? To protect your rights as an heir, you need to contest the will with the help of a skilled attorney. Unfortunately, many older individuals are persuaded easily to change terms of their wills to satisfy a malicious family member or friend. Dedicated and loving family members aren’t typically aware of these changes until their loved ones pass and are surprised to discover they have been manipulated into changing their estate plan. If you believe this was the case, contact our office today at 972-632-1300.

What happens when someone dies with a will?

When someone passes with a will, the will should be “probated” by a court of competent jurisdiction for the estate property to be managed or distributed according to the terms of the will.

As with the intestate context (passing without a will), the decedent’s heirs, beneficiaries, creditors, or other interested third parties have various options. The appropriateness of any one of the following options depend on many factors, including the party’s association with the estate, the estate’s size, debts associated with the estate, and likelihood of any dispute among interested parties:

  • Probate a Will as a Muniment of Title
  • Independent Administration of the Estate
  • Dependent Administration of the Estate

Please consult a competent probate attorney in McKinney, Plano, Frisco, Allen, Collin County or the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to advise you on the appropriate option for your specific case.

Why get a will or trust?

No matter the size of the estate, age, or family situation, it is almost always advisable to have some degree of estate planning. One of the most important benefits of estate planning is to control and preserve one’s legacy that is left behind with loved ones.

Additional reasons to have even a small degree of planning may include:

  • To avoid dispute among family members
  • To avoid the costs of probate or the uncertainty of dying without a will (“intestate”)
  • To arrive at an amicable solution
  • To make sure that all the heirs benefit
  • To safeguard the wealth
  • To get maximum benefit from the property
  • To resolve tax liabilities

Should I get a will or a trust?

In most cases, a will is the primary document that expresses one’s wishes after death. A will can contain provisions regarding a number of important issues, including the following:

  • Distribution of property and assets
  • Appointment of a guardian for one’s self and/or minor children
  • Preserving the relationships between your surviving family members
  • Funeral and burial arrangements
  • Payment of your debts

Setting up a trust may be an appropriate option to consider. Just like a will, a trust contains instructions for what happens to trust property at death. Trusts can offer additional benefits including:

  • Probate cost avoidance
  • Increased privacy
  • Creditor protection
  • In some cases, tax and financial planning
  • Protecting your wealth from financial mistakes by loved ones by specifying how and when the assets pass to the trust beneficiaries

In Texas, trusts are flexible estate planning tools. While strict requirements are governing their creation and management, trusts may have many functions and potential benefits for individuals or families.

What do you need to begin an investigation?

If you believe that a family member has acted in bad faith to cause the change in any estate document, misuse trust funds, or refuses to provide you with an accounting of trust assets, you need to speak with a licensed probate litigation attorney. Depending on the particular facts in your case, your attorney may request specific information or documents that would begin an investigation into your claim.

What is the difference between a revocable and irrevocable trust?

A revocable and irrevocable trusts are just what they sound like, one you can change and the other you cannot. Both trusts are created, and property or assets are placed in the trust. With a revocable trust, you can change the terms of the trust, move property in or out of the trust, and change assigned beneficiaries. Irrevocable trusts cannot be altered, once the property is in the trust, it cannot be moved or changed. If you created a revocable trust and then became incompetent or passed away, often the revocable trust changes into an irrevocable trust. There are specific circumstances in which you would want a trust to be revocable or irrevocable. It is best to speak to your attorney about your different options.

Is it possible to avoid probate?

Yes, some assets are non-probate assets that do not have to go through the probate process. If you have a living trust, assets that you have placed in the trust do not have to go through the probate process. If you want to avoid probate, it is best to express this intention with your estate-planning attorney. They can create an estate plan that aims to avoid the probate process and provide your beneficiaries with a smooth transitional process after death.

Please consult with a qualified trust and estate planning attorney/law firm in McKinney, Plano, Frisco, Allen, Collin County or the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to give you, your loved ones, and your family valuable guidance and peace of mind. Call us today at 972-632-1300.