JacksonWhite, Attorneys at Law offers a full range of estate and probate services, including estate planning and estate and trust litigation. Our estate litigation practice involves representing individuals who may be challenging the validity of a will, the mental capacity of a loved one, the amount or fairness of an inheritance, the honesty or performance of a fiduciary, or some other issue pertaining to the distribution of a deceased or incapacitated person’s property. Estate litigation may take the form of will contests or probate and trust litigation.
JacksonWhite represents clients in connection with will contests and challenges to the validity of a will, often amid claims of:
- CONFLICTING WILLS/PROMISES: Whether there has been a death in the family, or whether that looming loss is on the horizon, the stress that accompanies such times can be overwhelming. In times like these, the mysterious appearance of additional, or even fraudulent, wills can greatly exacerbate the stress of an already burdensome situation. This, coupled with the anxiety and confusion concerning whether or not the authentic will has the wherewithal to hold up in a court of law, can culminate to create the most stressful time in one’s life.If you believe that your loved one’s estate is in danger of being wrongfully appropriated, or if multiple wills have surfaced expressing conflicting instructions concerning the allocation of the testator’s assets, call the attorneys at Jackson White. Our experience in dealing with conflicting and fraudulent wills will bring you the peace of mind and the necessary closure that you deserve during such difficult times.
- FRAUD: Any time a loved one passes away, there are always those who wish to take for themselves what the deceased intended to share among many. Fraudulent activity can present itself in a number of ways, from imposters with falsified documents attempting to assume the identity of relatives, to the duplication of an existing will. There are even those who would coerce potential benefactors into relinquishing their inheritance by means of emotional manipulation, blackmail, or even violence.Whatever the case, if you feel you have been the victim of fraud, contact our attorneys today.
- IMPROPER EXECUTION OF THE WILL’S INSTRUCTIONS: Even in the absence of multiple wills, interpretations regarding a testator’s last wishes are often unclear and subject to the opinions of multiple family members. Ultimately, determining to whom your loved one wished to bestow his or her belongings can become more convoluted than you might have expected.If you feel that your loved one’s belongings are in jeopardy as a result of the misinterpretation of their will, give the attorneys at Jackson White a call. We have the experience and knowledge necessary to protect your loved one’s assets during these difficult times.
- INCAPACITY OF PERSON WHO MADE WILL: Often times, unexpected accidents or health related afflictions can impair your loved one’s ability to effectively communicate their last wishes. What before seemed clear regarding a family member’s last will can suddenly become clouded amidst such unfortunate circumstances. Other times, the excessive or sudden onset of stress can temporarily skew a loved one’s last wishes. In times like these, the stress and confusion surrounding the well-being of your loved one should not arise from any uncertainty concerning the clarity of their will.If your loved one recently suffered a traumatic experience, or if their mental or emotional health has deteriorated in recent years to the point that they are unable, or unfit, to effectively express the contents of their last will, give the attorneys at Jackson White a call. We’ll make sure that your loved one’s assets are protected and secure as you and your family work through this difficult time.
- UNDUE INFLUENCE OR DURESS: Unfortunately, the passing of a loved one often represents an opportunity for unscrupulous family members to cash in big. Whether by means of emotional coercion or legitimate threats to their well-being, a loved one’s last will can be unduly influenced in a number of ways. Generally these manipulators operate behind closed doors, out of view of those who truly have the testators best wishes at heart.If you feel that your loved one’s last wishes might have been the result of emotional manipulation or duress, call us today. We will immediately go to work to uncover the validity of the claims and determine the authenticity and origination of your loved one’s last will.
We represent clients in connection with estate litigation, which might involve issues such as:
- APPOINTMENT OF PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE: It is important you feel confident in the knowledge that when you have passed on, the things and people you worked so hard for in life will be taken care of. One of most important components of this process is identifying a personal representative, your executor, to oversee the management of your estate. This individual will oversee every aspect of your estate from the distribution of property to more complex processes such as settling outstanding debts.If you are unsure as to who might best be suited for such a task, or if you simply need assistance in getting the process under way, call us today. As one of the most well respected law firms in the valley, you can rest assured that the future of you estate is in good hands.
- CARRYING OUT FIDUCIARY DUTIES: Often, the intricacies associated with the responsibility bestowed on personal representatives can be overwhelming in the absence of legal counsel. There are a number of steps in the fiduciary process that require strict legal adherence, and failure to comply with any one of them, even as the result of a simple misunderstanding, can incur severe legal ramifications. Enlisting the assistance of our professionals can ensure that the entire process is efficiently and tactfully managed.The attorneys are Jackson White will help you every step of the way to ensure that fiduciary duties are executed quickly, properly, and professionally.
- DETERMINATION OF HEIRS: When a loved one passes on, a frequent and often uncomfortable situation that arises is the conflict surrounding the authenticity of potential heirs. With the possibility of inheriting a significant estate, there are those who would assert lineage where no such relation exists, or who would attempt to establish priority where no such designation is warranted. This can increase the burden placed on those who have already had to endure a very stressful time.If you feel that there is an attempt under way by those who would seek to acquire your loved one’s assets under false pretenses, call Jackson White today. We will work to ensure that your family’s estate is protected from would-be criminals, and to punish those who would attempt to acquire what is rightfully yours.
- INTERPRETING TERMS OF A WILL: One of the most common disputes among family members concerning the allocation and distribution of a loved one’s assets after they have passed is the interpretation of their last will and testament. When the instructions of a will are unclear, whether as a result of vague wording or simple disagreement among family members, the ensuing dispute can often wreak havoc within an otherwise tightly knit family. More importantly, it is imperative that your loved one’s wishes be carried out as he or she would have wanted.If you are having problems with those who would assert that your loved one’s last wishes are ambiguous or unclear, call the attorneys at Jackson White. Our experienced professionals will immediately go to work verifying the true nature of your loved one’s claims, ensuring that their wishes are carried out accurately and expediently.
- REMOVAL OF PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE: Despite your loved one’s sincerest efforts, there are times when those previously appointed as personal representatives are no longer fit to oversee the responsibilities of the position. Often, an executor’s incompetence or mismanagement of the estate is not evident until some time after your loved one’s passing. Regardless, such qualities, as well as monetary indiscretions such as embezzlement and other fraudulent activities, are grounds for immediate removal.If your loved one’s assets are in danger of being misappropriated, or if his or her personal representative has succumbed to an illness that jeopardizes his or her ability to manage the estate, call us.
Our areas of representation in trust litigation include:
- ACCOUNTING DISPUTES: While there are benefits associated with establishing a living trust, the trustee appointed to manage such appropriations has an inordinate degree of authority. At times, the trustee or trustees may not fully disclose the entirety of a deceased loved one’s estate, with the intent of increasing their proportion of the bequeathed assets. Other times, trustees fail to provide the required periodic accountings of such assets entirely, leaving other beneficiaries in the dark as to the contents of the estate.If you feel that a trustee has failed to provide a complete account of your loved one’s assets, or is intentionally withholding such information for his or her own personal gain, call us. We will immediately start the process of rectifying any indiscretions suffered at the hands of a trustee or trustees.
- CHALLENGING THE DECISIONS/ACTIONS OF TRUSTEE: The individual appointed as trustee over a loved one’s estate is ultimately responsible for the management of not only property, but more liquid holdings as well. However, unless professional services are enlisted, both regarding property and financial instruments, the potential for mismanagement of the trust’s resources is considerable. If a trustee’s decision concerning the appropriation of any portion of the estate results in a significant, adverse valuation of those assets, such management policies can be challenged in the courts.If you feel that the value of your loved one’s estate is suffering as a result of mismanagement on behalf of the trustee, call us. Our attorneys are well versed in the areas of trust litigation and will work hard to restore the integrity of your loved one’s estate.
- DISCLOSURE OF ACCOUNTING INFORMATION: As a beneficiary of the trust pertaining to your loved one’s estate, you are entitled to the full disclosure of any and all assets and liabilities that comprise the trust. It is the responsibility of the trustee, or trustees, to provide periodic, comprehensive accounting of such assets and liabilities. Failure to do so constitutes a violation of the trustee’s legal duties and may even stand as grounds for removal.If your trustee has failed to provide you, or other beneficiaries, with comprehensive accounting reports of the estate, give us a call. Our attorneys will immediately set to work on correcting the mismanagement of your loved one’s estate.
- REMOVAL OF TRUSTEE: In the event that your loved one’s estate has been consistently and egregiously mismanaged, the optimal solution may lie in removal of the current trustee. Failing to operate within the legal bounds of the position, as well as the mismanagement of trust assets, or even sheer negligence concerning matters of the trust, all represent just causes for initiating the removal process. Your loved one’s assets represent their entire life’s work, so a trustee whose management practices are anything less than exceptional neither deserves such a position nor represents an appropriate choice as trustee.If the trustee appointed to your loved one’s estate has engaged in any of these unscrupulous activities, call us today. Our attorneys will ensure that the management of your loved one’s estate is better provided for in the years to come.
- TRUSTEE COMPENSATION: The responsibilities afforded a trustee are vast to be sure. In consideration of the myriad responsibilities that ultimately reside with the trustee, it is only fair that he or she receive adequate compensation in exchange for such services. However, too often it seems that trustees see fit to award themselves exorbitant fees far in excess of what beneficiaries deem reasonable.If you feel that that a trustee has either attempted to allocate, or already has allocated, an unreasonably disproportionate sum of money as his or her trustee fee, call us today. Our experience and knowledge in trust litigation is second to none, and we will fight to assure that a loved one’s beneficiaries are not left to fend for themselves as a result of one trustee’s greedy conduct.
Call Probate Attorney Ryan Hodges at (480)467-4365 to discuss your case today.
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