Charlottesville Trust & Estate Litigation Attorney
After a loved one’s death, a fight might break out over his or her estate. Because these fights often involve family members, they can be some of the most emotional ever seen in a courtroom. Even worse, the litigation can threaten to deplete the estate of assets.
At MichieHamlett, our team has tackled many disputes involving trusts and estates. We can represent you whether you are defending the estate or trying to challenge it. Contact one of our Charlottesville trust and estate litigation lawyers today to learn more.
Types of Disputes
Estate litigation takes many forms and can include:
- Will contests. The will submitted to probate might not be legal because the testator lacked capacity or for some other reason. If the will is struck down, a prior will might spring into being or the estate could pass via Virginia’s intestacy laws.
- Elective share claims. A person cannot disinherit their spouse. Instead, the elective share law gives the spouse a right to a certain percentage of the estate, unless they waived this right in a valid agreement.
- Trust litigation. A trust can be challenged just like a will and for often the same reasons. Sometimes a person wants to invalidate the entire trust, whereas in other situations a judge needs to determine what vague language means so the trust can be administered properly.
- Fiduciary duty disputes. Executors and trustees owe certain duties to beneficiaries, such as the duty not to engage in self-dealing. When fiduciaries violate these rules, beneficiaries are harmed.
- Guardianship or conservatorship disputes. Allegations that a guardian or conservator is failing in their duties are common. In other situations, a ward wants to fight off the guardianship.
- Creditor claims. The deceased might have owed money at death. These creditors can make a claim on the estate, and the executor must allow or disallow the claim. Disputes can erupt over the validity of the claim.
To determine the validity of the dispute, you should meet with an attorney who can review all the facts known. Some disputes turn on simple matters of interpretation, whereas others require intense amounts of evidence.
Who We Represent
Many people might be interested in bringing a claim. For example, disappointed spouses or heirs could challenge a will or trust. We have also represented executors who are charged with defending the estate.
When it comes to creditor claims, we can help creditors press their claims in court or assist the estate in fighting them off. Clients benefit from the fact that we have been on “both sides of a courtroom.” We know what the other side will argue and can plan appropriately.
Sensible Litigation Solutions
Not every dispute needs to end up in court, where it can languish for years, eating up the estate’s assets. Some trust and estate litigation can go through mediation or arbitration. These alternate dispute resolution techniques afford privacy and a faster resolution to the dispute.
Our trust and estate litigation attorneys in Charlottesville keep an eye on the bottom line. We will protect your rights in an efficient manner.