When an individual passes away with assets titled in his or her name, probate is usually necessary to administer those assets and address outstanding debts and claims against the individual's estate. Probate can be a lengthy process that becomes even more expensive and time-consuming when it is complicated by will contests and other probate disputes.
Sometimes Disputes Arise During The Process of Probate
Our probate lawyers at Platt & Westby, P.C., represent individuals, families and estates in all Arizona probate matters, including estates in which there are probate disputes amongst family members and other heirs of the deceased person ("decedent"). We focus on resolving probate issues efficiently while preserving the true intentions of the decedent.
Probate disputes can arise from any number of situations:
- Will and trust contests: Will disputes and trust contests frequently arise when a family member is disinherited or when siblings receive unequal inheritance. Looking at factors such as undue influence or duress is one way to contest the will. Asking if the will or trust was established or modified at a time when the decedent lacked the capacity to make such decisions? Was the estate plan changed just before the decedent's death? Was the person benefiting from the change in the estate plan also the caregiver of the decedent before death? These are the types of questions that if the answer is "yes," may give rise to a will contest.
- Intestate disputes: When an individual dies without a will or estate plan (dies intestate), Arizona intestate laws designate how property shall be distributed to heirs. However, the court may determine that an heir has forfeited his or her right to inherit in certain cases. Financial misconduct, fraud, undue influence, physical abuse and murder could cause an individual to forfeit his or her right to inherit.
- Fraudulent distributions prior to death: Assets that are given away prior to the decedent's death may be questioned during the probate process. Was the family home given to a child who spent considerable time with the decedent prior to his or her death, while other children were excluded from such gifts? Was the decedent suffering from dementia, Alzheimer's, or other mental illness or disease when the gifts were made? Were family heirlooms given to a caregiver or another individual under duress? Was elder fraud or financial misconduct being committed by the decedent's power of attorney or joint account holder?
- Other probate disputes: While the majority of probate disputes center on inheritance issues, any pending litigation must be resolved before the estate can be closed and distributions made to heirs. This includes personal injury litigation, business disputes and other civil litigation.
Speak With A Knowledgeable Attorney
Our probate attorneys at Platt & Westby, P.C., are available to answer your questions and provide you with an honest assessment of your case. If you are looking for an experienced probate dispute attorney, contact us or call 602-277-4441 to schedule an appointment to discuss your matter. We have been serving Phoenix area residents for nearly 40 years and are proud to offer six convenient office locations throughout the Phoenix area. Call today.