estate litigation lawyer in Buckeye

When someone dies, they leave behind an estate. Estates aren’t necessarily large portfolios of assets. Your estate consists of anything you own — personal property, insurance policies, and even debts. You can control who gets your assets after you pass away if you have a will. But sometimes, family members disagree about the terms of the will or how the estate is administered. In these cases, estate litigation may be necessary to resolve these disputes. 

Seeking advice from a Buckeye, AZ, estate litigation lawyer is crucial if you’re struggling to settle a loved one’s affairs or believe there are problems with the estate administration. Having legal representation may help you avoid court or make navigating the legal process easier during this stressful time.    

When is Estate Litigation Necessary in Buckeye, AZ?

Common causes of estate litigation stem from a lack of proper estate planning or issues with how an estate planning attorney executed certain legal documents. Typical disputes involve: 

  • Ambiguity in the will – Disputes may arise when a will’s language is unclear, leading to confusion among heirs regarding asset distribution. To avoid conflicts, the will must designate beneficiaries and who inherits property in straightforward legal terms.
  • Multiple wills – Litigation can result when different versions of a will exist, and it’s hard to tell which is the most recent or valid. Courts must determine which will genuinely reflects your loved one’s final wishes, often considering the timing and circumstances of each document’s execution.
  • Incapacity – Claims that the person making the will lacked mental competence when they signed the document often result in will contests. To prove lack of legal capacity, you must show that the decedent (the person who died) did not understand the estate’s nature, the will’s implications, or the relationships with potential heirs.
  • Undue influence – Estate litigation may be necessary if there is suspicion that the will was made under coercion and does not reflect the loved one’s true intentions. It often involves scenarios where the person drafting the will was vulnerable and manipulated by a trusted individual.
  • Breach of fiduciary responsibility – This situation arises when an estate’s personal representative (executor) acts in self-interest or mismanages estate assets, violating their duty to act in the beneficiaries’ best interests. This can include asset mismanagement or improper asset distribution.

Reasons You Need an Arizona Estate Litigation Attorney

If your loved one died without a will or you believe the will is invalid, a skilled Buckeye estate litigation attorney can work to resolve the issues involving their assets while minimizing the distress you may be feeling. Estate lawyers understand the driving force behind many estate disputes is emotional. Still, you have to resolve the decedent’s remaining business affairs. A compassionate and knowledgeable attorney will work to develop a strategy to accomplish their clients’ goals while minimizing strife.

An estate litigation lawyer’s primary responsibility is ensuring that the decedent’s wishes are honored and that the estate is administered fairly according to Arizona law. This job may include handling contested wills, questions over inheritances, challenges to the provisions of a trust, creditor litigation, out-of-date estate documents, and disputes when the decedent’s incapacitation happened suddenly.

Estate litigation attorneys in Buckeye are also deeply involved in cases where executors or trustees are accused of breaching their fiduciary duties. In such situations, estate attorneys protect the beneficiaries’ interests by addressing any mismanagement or fraud quickly and effectively. This can include litigation to remove an executor or trustee who is failing in their duties or seeking restitution for misappropriated estate assets.

Beyond litigation, estate planning attorneys often provide preventive advice to help clients avoid future disputes. They may assist in drafting clear and comprehensive estate planning documents, advise on the proper administration of estates and trusts, and help plan ahead to reduce the potential for conflict.

Estate Litigation Process in Buckeye, AZ

Understanding how estate litigation works can help you make an informed decision about your next steps. Here’s the general process:

  • Initial consultation – You meet with a prospective estate litigation attorney to discuss your concerns. Bring as much documentation as possible to the consultation so the lawyer can review your situation, determine whether you have a valid case, and seek alternative solutions to resolve the issues.
  • Pre-litigation resolution – Estate litigation attorneys often prefer alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation to find common ground during the pre-trial stages, saving the client extensive legal fees. 
  • Formal litigation – If the heirs cannot reach an agreement through mediation, they file a formal lawsuit, taking the dispute to court. The judge sets a trial date, but both parties can request a continuance while they negotiate. 
  • Resolution and/or appeal—If negotiations fail, the court will hear the case and render a binding judgment. If one of the parties disagrees with the legality of the court’s decision, they are free to appeal the case. 

Why Choose Pennington Law, PLLC?

At Pennington Law, PLLC, we have decades of experience helping Buckeye residents resolve estate disputes. Our law firm offers comprehensive estate planning services, from assisting Arizonans in designing solid estate plans that keep families out of court to representing family members when litigation is the only step forward. Let us help you seek the resolution you deserve. Call or contact us for a free consultation with an estate litigation lawyer in Buckeye.