A few months ago, the lives of a wealthy businessman and his wife of almost 60 years ended tragically when the man killed both his wife and himself. Now, probate litigation is threatening to prolong these tragic circumstances for months or even years.
Posts tagged "Probate Litigation"
In our last post, we wrote about the general fiduciary duties of executors and administrators in dealing with the assets of the decedent. Now, two of the most famous names in American show business are involved in an estate lawsuit brought by the trustee of a family trust that is intended to prohibit the use of those names. While the bar in question is located in Illinois, the names of the two singing stars involved in this lawsuit are known throughout Texas, and the legal basis of the lawsuit is based on laws that are the same in Texas as in Illinois.
Most Texas wills are valid and sail through the probate court without a hitch. Every so often, however, a relative may disagree with the bequests in the will and decide to challenge the validity of the will. A will challenge is perhaps the most contentious form of probate litigation because it often pits one family member against another. For large estates, however, the challenge could be worth thousands or even millions of dollars. The grounds for a successful challenge are not especially complicated.
Disputes over inheritance can be very ugly. These fights can turn sibling against sibling, or even children against a parent.
When creating a will, many people do not realize what might be valid in one state might not be valid in another. Understanding the different types of wills one can create gives individuals different options for distributing their wealth and assets while also ensuring one's will is enforceable wherever they live.
Probate has many misconceptions. While many Texas residents may think that probate litigation only takes place if someone has died without a will, this is not the case-probate actually involves the authentication of a will, if it was made, locating and valuing assets, paying the descendant's final bills and taxes and distributing one's assets. If the descendent did not leave a will, his or her bills still need to be paid and the estate distributed, which will take place during probate.
As mentioned previously on this blog, creating a comprehensive estate plan that covers both one's end-of-life decisions and steps to be taken after one's demise is an important step for Houston residents to take this year. Powers of attorneys are used to make essential financial and healthcare decisions if one is unable to do so. Additionally, one can avoid a situation where a conservator has to be legally appointed if they have a power of attorney in place. Similarly, having a will in place avoids the probate process.
Thinking about one's demise is difficult, and contemplating what would happen if one becomes incapacitated is even more troubling. However, having a plan in place for what should take place in case one is unable to make important financial and medical decisions for oneself is an important step Houston residents should take, as it can avoid a situation where the court has to appoint a conservator. A conservator is only appointed if there are no durable powers of attorney for finances and medical decisions.
Right after a Houston resident has lost a loved one, they inevitably go through a period of mourning in which they remember the good times they shared with the deceased. The last thing they need to find out at that time is that they have either been left out of a will or that the decedent died without a will. If someone finds out they have been left out of a will, what should they do?
Texans and people across the nation are well-advised to have a comprehensive estate plan. This is necessary to avoid a legal dispute between heirs and to ensure that the assets go where the testator wants. The pitfalls of a perceived failure to do this can be found in cases where a wealthy and famous person dies and had a blended family. Those who believe they should inherit certain items in the estate or be in control of a trust will frequently end up embroiled in a dispute that can take time and significant resources to settle. Such is the case with the late actor Alan Thicke.