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Arizona Probate Litigation

What is Probate Litigation?

Generally speaking, Probate Litigation refers to lawsuits handled by the Probate Court. In Arizona, the Probate Court handles matters dealing with estates of deceased or incapacitated people. Lawsuits in this arena arise when there is a conflict regarding what property belongs to a decedent, how that property should be distributed, and whether or not someone needs a guardian or conservator.

Guardianship/Conservatorship

Often, the need arises for a Court to appoint someone to care for a vulnerable person or “ward”. This need is usually due to the ward’s inability to care for himself or herself because of incapacity, infancy, or disability. The person chosen to help care for a ward is appointed guardian. If the ward has assets that need to be taken care of, the Probate Court will also appoint a conservator to manage the ward’s money or property. These proceedings can result in litigation when someone objects to the appointment of a guardian or conservator. Usually, the objection will come from another party who wishes to be appointed for the ward. The County and State have an interest in protecting vulnerable citizens so investigators and attorneys are appointed to safeguard the process and object to the appointment of a guardian or conservator when necessary.

Will Contests

When someone passes away, whether they have a Will or not, there is a potential for probate litigation. The validity of the Will, the existence of other Wills, transfers of property prior to the decedent’s death, and the whereabouts or existence of estate property are all fertile grounds for a probate lawsuit. There are specific rules regarding the execution of a Will which must be followed. If there is more than one Will, the most recent, validly executed Will controls. Sometimes a Will can be invalidated because of undue influence exerted by an interested party. The actions of a testator can sometimes, unintentionally invalidate a Will. Literally hundreds of years of litigation history have created a breeding ground for probate litigation concerning Wills.

Trust Administration

Usually, an estate plan involving a Trust will avoid the Probate Court but, when a Trust has been administered by the Trustee improperly, the door to probate litigation is opened. A Trustee of a Trust has enumerated and strict duties to the beneficiaries of the Trust. When they violate those duties, a beneficiary may appeal to the probate court for redress. Generally, these suits start with a demand for information and/or accounting. However, depending on what turns up after such a demand, the beneficiary may have cause to ask the Court to remove a Trustee, divulge assets from a third party or Trustee, or even penalize the Trustee with sanctions or a forfeiture of his or her interest in the Trust.

Phoenix Probate Litigation Lawyers:

The best way to avoid Probate Litigation is with a comprehensive Estate Plan. The Arizona estate planning attorneys at Platt & Westby charge reasonable fixed fees to draft trust and related documents. Should you currently be facing probate litigation, the Arizona Probate Litigation attorneys at Platt & Westby handle any type of Probate Litigation problem at reasonable hourly rates. Call us at 602-277-4441 or use the form on this page schedule a free consultation with an experienced Phoenix probate litigation attorney.

 

If you have a probate question, contact us. We can help.


Melissa Keiper
Melissa Keiper
00:40 22 Feb 18
I wrote in to a law message board asking about a step in my case and Mr. Peter Westby replied with some sound advice. I emailed him to thank him for his advice and shared with him I was not being represented. He offered to meet with me to go over my case and possibly about representing me. In our meeting he allowed me to give him all the details of my case and he spent a good amount of time offering advise and insight to the law pertaining to my situation. Mr. Westby was very patient and allowed me to ask multiple questions and was thorough in his answers. Because I live 2 hours away and in a different county (Tucson), and because my case will most likely go to trial and the cost of travel for him to represent me I am unable to retain Mr. Westby as my attorney. However, if this were to be taking place in Phoenix I would hire him in a heartbeat. I appreciate his willingness to talk with me and spend his time assuring me about the steps i'll need to take in my case. He was very prompt in his reply to my question and then for scheduling a phone conference to go over a case he prob knew he wouldn't be able to take given the distance.read more
Lance Wallace
Lance Wallace
16:44 04 Jan 18
I've worked with Pete Westby on a few matters over the years and I do recommend him and his firm. It is nice to talk and work directly with a principal of the firm who has both integrity and tons of experience.read more
John Rukavena
John Rukavena
23:25 12 Oct 17
Meet with Peter today and was very impressed. I had a large tile job that was done improperly and was not sure if a lawsuit made economic sense. Peter was straightforward and told me that if the contractor did not have sufficent assets, a lawsuit would be risky because a favorable court decision might not result in a payout. I now know what I need to do thanks to Peter.read more
David Hughes
David Hughes
17:08 08 Nov 17
Mr. Westby was great and very knowledgeable and the staff was friendly and very responsive and kept me informed every step of the way... I would and will definitely recommend Platt & Westby P.C. to friends and family.read more
Jordan P
Jordan P
19:07 04 Sep 17
We went in for our free consultation regarding our legal concerns and we were very happy with our experience and outcome of our situation. Mr. Rahtz was professional, informative, and helpful. I would recommend him for anyone seeking legal counselling. Thank you to Mr. Rahtz and the rest of the team at Platt & Westby.read more
Kenneth Crayton
Kenneth Crayton
07:30 22 May 18
RahtzHe gave me his undivided attention and seemed to genuinely care. In my experience, it has been very tedious and daunting to begin a conversation with an attorney, especially one at a law firm with other partners, etc. That is, usually law firms won't lend an ear, it seems, unless you pay $100-300 initial consulting fee, which is basically a $15 overview of your case and whether they think it's worthwhile$$$.However, not only was I surprised to see Attorney Rhatz offer a no-cost consultation, but he also kept it "real." He advised me with information that even seemed to work against his assumed interest in profit (i.e., he didn't try to exploit me for money), such as by providing me with self-help research suggestions, and even helped me put together an outline for my case.He didn't want me to lose more money winning with him (he didn't want me to spend so much money to retain him, that even if winning the case, I'd still be at a net negative dollar-loss).He gave me his undivided attention, asked questions that showed he actually paid attention, and was very resourceful with directing me towards credible sources of jurisprudence.What's more, is that he didn't throw me out after 15 minutes, but rather stayed with me until he felt I was sufficiently informed with the material and answers to questions to send me along my way.This man even read through all my notes and connected with me as a person.I also appreciated his aggressive, but civil, nature towards vanquishing the countering party. He is strategic, he is prepared to preempt the countering party's legal arguments by first calling them out himself, and sparks reassurance that he is sedulously and astutely on the case.Obviously, I would recommend attorney R Andrew Rahtz for the aforementioned reasons, despite only meeting with him one time on an preliminary consultation.read more
Paulo Soares
Paulo Soares
01:38 11 Jul 18
Mr. Westby really knows his stuff, and gave me some excellent advice. I will be back to move forward on my situation.
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