What Families Must Know About Trust and Probate Litigation

After a person passes away, their estate may go through probate or trust litigation. There are many reasons why family members may come forward and request litigation. For instance, a loved ones may file a complaint to the court about how their relative’s legacy is being mishandled, or to dispute that they deserve a share of the estate. During this period of grief, it isn’t uncommon for intense disputes to erupt. Many people turn to a legal professional, as probate and trust litigation can be complex and emotionally triggering.

How Litigation Occurs

When there are disagreements about trust or probate assets, people can come forward to file litigation in probate court. A lawsuit within probate court is also referred to as a “petition”, which lists details of the complaint. Those who are not pleased with how probate is going or the administration of their loved one’s trust, can file this petition as a way to intervene before it continues further. In many cases, a person files a petition as a way to get the trust administrator to distribute assets, or request that the trustee is removed from their role.

It isn’t uncommon for disputes to arise among relatives while the trust is being dealt with. During this period of grief, family members may get disgruntled about their share of the assets or may feel that the trustee isn’t handling their loved one’s legacy with respect. A significant number of trust and probate disputes entail conflicts between relatives.

How to Know if You Need an Attorney

Family members who are in the midst of a family drama over a loved one’s estate that passed away, can find support by hiring an attorney experienced in such matters. Disputes arise over inheritance, will contests, creditor claims, spousal rights, and more. With such high emotions running through the family during this time, disputes can develop rapidly. Not only can these conflicts cause tensions within the family, but it can be expensive too if it isn’t settled quickly. Attorneys who have represented clients in such disagreements can help untangle the mess that was created.

The Process of Probate Court

Probate litigation and court petitions are similar to what litigation is like in civil court. However, there are some major differences. With probate court, the person who initiated the case is not referred to as the “plaintiff”. Instead, this individual is called the “petitioner”. The person who would normally be called the “defendant” in civil court is named the “respondent” in probate court.

A probate court case begins once a petition is filed, and then a hearing date is scheduled. Typically, the hearing is set about 5-8 weeks after the initial petition submittal. This gives the respondent time to respond to the petition as well. Both sides have the opportunity to gather evidence needed to prove their case or defend against accusations. If the case isn’t settled then a judge trial in the probate court decides the final outcome.

Source: Estate Planning Lawyer King of Prussia, PA, Klenk Law

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