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contesting a will in arizona

When a family member dies, the loved ones they leave behind sometimes get caught up in legal disputes over their estate. These disputes can become emotionally charged as family members fight over money, heirlooms, real estate, and other assets. Trustees, executors, and personal representatives can get stuck in the middle of these family fights, too, making it harder to fulfill their legal duties.

Careful estate planning can minimize the chances of estate litigation. But differing interpretations over trust documents or wills could still lead to lawsuits. Whether you seek to challenge the management of an estate or if you are facing litigation over your role as an executor or trustee, you need experienced legal representation to protect your rights. Pennington Law, PLLC can help.

Our firm has years of experience providing skillful counsel to individuals and families dealing with legal disputes over trusts and estates. We work hard to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of your case, and we will provide you with options to protect your financial interests and your family.

Contact Pennington Law, PLLC, for contesting a will in Arizona & free initial case evaluation to learn how a West Valley Arizona estate litigation lawyer can help you. Our firm can support you every step of the way if you need to challenge a will or trust or if someone is contesting the management of your trust or estate. We serve clients and families in Surprise, Sun City West, Peoria, Goodyear, Buckeye, and the surrounding communities.

Common Disputes That Lead to Estate Litigation in Arizona

Some of the most common disputes over trusts and estates that lead to litigation include:

  • Creditor Litigation – Probate often involves claims from alleged creditors, especially claims that arise from personal loans or sales of property. When an executor denies a creditor’s claim, the creditor might sue the estate.
  • Contested Wills – Heirs or other interested parties can file suits to challenge the validity of a will or specific provisions in a will. Challengers might assert claims of fraud, undue influence, forgery, improper execution, or vagueness to have a will declared invalid in whole or in part.
  • Trust Management Issues – Trustees have legal responsibilities with respect to the trust’s beneficiaries. Beneficiaries can file litigation to contest a trustee’s actions, alleging that the trustee mishandled or wasted trust assets or engaged in self-dealing.
  • Out-of-Date Documents – Heirs or beneficiaries might try to challenge the validity of a will by alleging that the decedent made a subsequent will, revoking the will submitted in court.
  • Beneficiaries Disputing the Terms of a Will – Beneficiaries named in a will might fight amongst each other to dispute the specific terms of the will, hoping to secure a larger share of the estate or certain assets for themselves.
  • Signs of Coercion or Undue Influence – Interested parties can seek to invalidate a will or trust by alleging that the settlor (the person who made a settlement or created a trust of property) executed the will or trust while subject to coercion or undue influence from another party who stood to benefit from the estate.
  • Disputes Surrounding Sudden Incapacitation – Some parties might question the validity of a will or trust if the executor or personal representative became incapacitated around the same time as the execution of the will or trust.

Your Legal Rights in an Estate or Trust Litigation Matter

Beneficiaries and executors/trustees have various rights in estate and trust litigation, including the following:

The Right to Contest a Will or Trust

A named beneficiary or anyone claiming an interest in an estate or trust has the right to file a lawsuit to challenge the validity of the will or trust documents. A beneficiary or purported heir might file suit to determine whether the settlor or testator (the subject of the will) had the legal capacity to execute the will or trust, whether undue influence played a part, or whether the testator followed the legal requirements for managing the will or trust.

The Right to Distributions

Beneficiaries under a will or trust document also have the right to receive distributions from the estate or trust according to the terms of the will or trust. A beneficiary could file a suit to compel an executor or trustee to make certain distributions.

The Right to Information About the Trust or Estate

Trust beneficiaries also have the right to receive information about the trust’s finances from the trustee. Heirs or beneficiaries of an estate could file a lawsuit to demand an accounting from the executor or administrator.

Trustees or executors have the right to obtain legal representation to help them address legal disputes or lawsuits over their trust or estate management.

What to Consider When Selecting an Estate and Trust Litigation Lawyer in Arizona

It’s a good idea to consider a range of factors when choosing an estate and trust litigation lawyer to represent your interests. These factors include the following:

Experience

You should seek a lawyer with extensive experience handling estate and trust litigation matters. You might ask prospective lawyers how long they have practiced trust and estate litigation, what percentage of their cases involve estate or trust litigation matters, and how frequently they achieve successful client results.

Record of Success

You should hire an estate and trust litigation lawyer with an established record of success both inside and outside the courtroom. You will want an attorney with the negotiation skills necessary to help you obtain a fair resolution at the settlement table. Your attorney should also have a record of winning verdicts, which can give you the confidence to take your case to trial if necessary.

Resources

Estate or trust litigation can quickly become complicated. It’s best to work with a law firm that has the financial resources and personnel to handle your case, no matter how complex or sprawling it becomes. The firm you choose should also have connections with experts and forensic accountants who can analyze financial and estate planning records.

Communication

You should also find an estate and trust litigation attorney who will maintain close contact with you throughout your case. When questions or concerns arise, you need a lawyer who will quickly respond to your phone call or email and help you work through the problem. Your attorney should also keep you updated on the progress of your case, so you never feel left in the dark.

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Common Cases Against Executors and Trustees in Arizona

Executors and Trustees

Examples of lawsuits filed in Arizona against executors or trustees include:

  • Mishandling of Estate by Executor – A decedent’s creditors or the heirs or beneficiaries of an estate can sue an executor or administrator to allege that the executor mishandled the estate by failing to gather and secure assets, maintain estate property, or make appropriate investments.
  • Executor Performance Issues – Executors could also face allegations of improper actions or performance issues, such as faulty accounting or approving claims that lack valid documentation.
  • Misappropriation of Assets – Executors and trustees can charge reasonable fees for their services on behalf of a trust or estate. They can also hire professionals such as estate planning lawyers and accountants to help them discharge their responsibilities. However, beneficiaries or heirs might sue an executor or trustee who charges excessive fees or takes estate or trust assets for personal use.
  • Errors in Distribution – Creditors or beneficiaries could sue an executor or trustee for failing to distribute assets according to the terms of a will or trust. Sometimes, ambiguous terms in a will or trust document put executors and trustees at risk of litigation due to differing interpretations.

Why You Need a Trust and Estate Litigation Lawyer from Our Firm

With your rights and interests on the line in an estate or trust litigation case, you need experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel to advocate for you. Beneficiaries, trustees, and personal representatives in Arizona turn to the trust and estate litigation lawyers from Pennington Law, PLLC because:

We Have an Accomplished Legal Team

Our dedication to championing our clients’ interests has earned our firm numerous awards and accolades, including 2021 Litigator of the Year from the American Institute of Trial Lawyers, 2021 Best Attorneys of America, 2021 Elite Lawyer, 2021 Lawyer of Distinction, and Best Probate Lawyers in Surprise, Peoria, and Goodyear from Expertise.com.

We Possess Extensive Legal Experience

Our managing attorney Andre Pennington has a long legal career in estate and trust law. He served in the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps, where he performed estate planning for servicemembers. Andre has also handled more than 75 trials in state, federal, and military courtrooms.

We Dedicate Ourselves to Pursuing Success for Our Clients

When you choose our firm to help with your estate or trust litigation, you can count on us to seek the best possible outcome in your case. Our legal team works tirelessly to secure favorable results for our clients.

Contact Our Surprise, Sun City West, Peoria, and Buckeye, AZ, Trust and Estate Litigation Lawyers Today

You deserve an attorney who will dedicate themselves to protecting you, your loved ones, and your future. When you need experienced legal counsel to help you resolve trust or estate litigation issues, look to Pennington Law, PLLC.

Contact our firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation with an Arizona estate litigation attorney.

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