The death of a loved one is an emotionally vulnerable time for anyone. Unfortunately, it can also be the time when you are most vulnerable to deceit, fraud, and overreach by relatives, estate executors, and creditors who are not above exploiting the death of a human being (and the resulting grief of the survivors) for financial gain.
A person’s estate consists of all the money and property currently held in their name at death. That could include financial accounts (checking, savings, or brokerage accounts), homes, cars, personal effects, interests in a small business, or any other property. When a loved one dies, their estate passes in accordance with the instructions in their will or, of no will exists, with the state’s default inheritance laws.
Estate litigation in Houston frequently arises when family members challenge the validity of a Will or where an estate representative engages in dubious transactions with estate property. From investigating claims of undue influence to tracing missing assets, the experienced trust and estates attorneys of Romano & Sumner can help you navigate a complex probate case.
After a person’s passing, any property that does not automatically transfer to another, such as through a trust or survivorship account, constitutes what was described above as the decedent’s estate. Probate courts exist to facilitate the distribution of that estate to the proper beneficiaries. This is done through probate or estate administration.
After a person passes away, any interested person can then file a will for probate or seek a determination of the heirs and have the Court appoint a personal representative. The personal representative has the authority to manage the estate property, pay debts and other claims, and, ultimately, distribute the assets to the beneficiaries. At any time during this process, estate litigation may ensue.
Not all estate litigation involves disgruntled heirs or beneficiaries (but most do). Sometimes creditors assert priority rights to assets, testamentary documents conflict, or executors discover elder abuse and fraud. Probate challenges typically result from the following:
Probate challenges frequently exacerbate the grieving process after a loved one’s passing. If you find yourself needing to defend against unwarranted will contests or challenge an executor’s asset mismanagement, contact an experienced trust and estates litigator at Romano & Sumner for a free case analysis today.
Romano & Sumner, PLLC