What is Probate Litigation?
When someone dies and leaves behind certain documents to ensure that their assets are divided according to their wishes (such as a Last Will and Testament), or in other cases, when a person is still alive but has unique challenges to their financial situation, the issues may end up probate litigation. Probate litigation occurs when there is some form of legal challenge or dispute arising from the incapacity, disability or death of a person. It is important to understand the different types of probate litigation and when you have the legal right to bring a claim in the courts of New Jersey.
Probate Litigation – Executor is Alive
If there is any issue regarding guardianship while an executor (the person who made the will) is still alive, it is typically with regard to the appointment of the fiduciary making decisions regarding the finances or medical treatment of the executor. Probate litigation is often needed because these are time-sensitive issues, especially when medical treatment is involved. In some instances, a medical decision or a decision regarding a specific bill needs to be decided immediately, and when there are disagreements regarding those decisions, the family may take the matter to probate court. A court may make the decision to appoint a temporary fiduciary during this process before a final legal determination is made by the judge.
Probate Litigation – Executor Has Passed Away
In a much more common scenario, the probate litigation happens after the executor’s death, when the heirs and beneficiaries disagree regarding the estate planning documents. In many cases, the issues will center around whether or not the executor of the estate planning document had the mental capacity to execute these documents, or was coerced or manipulated by another person in any way and changed their estate planning documents as a result. If there was any undue influence or incapacity, the judge will make a decision regarding how the assets of the estate should be distributed. Other reasons that estate planning documents may be handled through probate litigation include the improper execution of a document, or even theft of assets by one beneficiary or heir prior to the death of the executor.
The television shows and movies are not so wrong regarding family feud and disputes after one wealthy family member passes away. Disputes arise regarding family heirlooms, important pieces of real estate, or the overall assets of an estate. If a family member was in a nursing home, it is also possible that they were corrected or exploited by the nursing home staff to change a will or other estate planning document leaving family members out of the will.
Contact an Experienced Probate Litigation Attorney
If you believe you have the right to assets of a family member’s estate, you may have to take the case to probate court. Make sure that you have the legal knowledge and representation for a strong case. Contact an experienced New Jersey probate litigation attorney at the law firm of Giro Law at 201-690-1642. We can help work with you to ensure you receive your proper share of your loved one’s estate.