Making the Estate Litigation Process as Smooth as Possible
In Ohio, estate litigation is required if a loved one has passed away and there is a disagreement over a will’s validity. Unfortunately, the estate litigation process can be complex and overwhelming, regardless of whether someone is challenging the will’s validity or is engaged in a dispute with another party who is challenging the will. Therefore, when disputes over Ohio estates arise, it is crucial to have competent legal counsel on your side to defend your rights and your loved one’s wishes.
Avoiding Estate Litigation in Ohio
A family’s stress regarding a loved one’s final wishes after death can be avoided by having an up-to-date estate plan. This is, by far, the simplest and most effective method for preventing estate litigation. In addition, a well-thought-out plan will let survivors know what the deceased wished to be done with their remaining assets and debts, and it may even do away with the need for probate.
A comprehensive estate plan specifies how trusts should be managed, who manages an individual’s affairs in incapacity, and how assets will be distributed upon death. This can be achieved with the help of qualified and experienced estate planning attorneys who help draft a will that will protect and leave something to family and other loved ones after passing.
The Function of an Estate Litigator
In a perfect world, there would be no hassles while settling an estate. Fortunately, this is true in the majority of cases. That said, regrettably, issues do occur.
When that happens, an estate litigation lawyer can help. They will start by outlining the legal process for you and the procedures required to settle. They will also make it clear that they represent all beneficiaries and other parties with legitimate interests in addition to the estate.
Generally, the individual the estate litigation lawyer works most closely with is the person chosen as the executor of the deceased’s estate. Following the wishes of the recently deceased is their principal responsibility, and they may also deal with issues such as:
- Examining and confirming an existing will’s validity
- Interpreting the will’s clauses
- Asset management
- Supervising asset distribution
- Handling disputes over shares of the estate held by dependents or other beneficiaries
- Resolving any concerns regarding illegally seized estate assets
- Responding to people or organizations who feel they are entitled to a portion of the estate
- Addressing any family law concerns involving the estate
Some estate litigation attorneys may only represent a beneficiary (or beneficiaries) rather than the estate or executor. Their responsibilities include:
- Help determine a will’s validity, if applicable
- Assist in securing particular assets for a beneficiary who believes they have a strong claim.
- If there is a concern, evaluate how properties and assets are allocated.
- Argue for unique situations involving dependency-related estate claims.
- Act as a mediator in the administration of estate money
The litigation attorney will follow the law to evaluate the legality of outside claims and respond appropriately to parties who have stated a share or interest in the decedent’s estate.
What If No Will or Named Executor Exists?
The state will designate a person to manage the estate as it enters probate in cases where the deceased failed to leave a will or name an executor for their estate.
With the help of an estate litigation attorney, the executor will submit a death certificate to the government, which then confirms the deceased has passed. After deciding that the administrator is qualified to represent the estate, they will ensure that the executor will act as the estate’s representative.
What Happens When Disputes Arise?
When issues arise, probate litigation follows. An estate litigation lawyer can help guide beneficiaries through the court system to resolve concerns like:
- Contested wills
- Administrator appointments
- Surviving spousal claims
- Guardianship issues
- Executor fee disputes
- Formal accounting of assets and expenses
- Removal of trustees in those cases where a choice forms a trust
The estate litigation team investigates and researches claims, then files a court petition with the necessary facts and laws. Subpoenas, bank statements, depositions, and other evidence are sought and reviewed during the discovery phase.
Before trial, a judge will require the parties to participate in non-binding mediation. Parties meet with a mediator, usually a lawyer or retired judge, to settle disputes without a trial.
Successful mediation saves everyone time, money, and stress. When mediation fails, an estate litigation lawyer will be with you every step of the way from trial to final resolution.
Estate Litigation Attorneys At Your Service
No one has more knowledge of estate litigation than Heban, Murphree, and Lewandowski. We keep you involved in the process from start to finish, so there are no questions and loose ends. So don’t go through estate litigation alone—contact us today.