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Probate and Trust – Contests and Disputes

A person can distribute his or her property upon death in a variety of ways.  The most obvious and common are through a will or trust.  After someone dies, it should be a time of grieving and peaceful reflection on life and relationships.  And, it should be a time when the person’s wishes are identified and followed.  Indeed, a last will and testament or trust is supposed to involve a deliberate complete process whereby someone of sound mind sets forth his or her true wishes for the distribution of property upon death.

Sometimes, those wishes are disregarded, vague, misconstrued, misunderstood, tampered with, disregarded or disputed. We provide valuable assistance to personal representatives, trustees and/or beneficiaries to address a wide variety of probate and trust conflicts. Our firm handles virtually all types of will and trust contests and estate, trust and probate disputes. We will endeavor to identify and give full force to the person’s true wishes. With compassion and respect, our Arizona probate, trust and estate litigation attorneys will do their best to try to help you achieve justice.

Estate Litigation

“Estate litigation” encompasses a broad range of disputes involving virtually any type of inheritance, probate, trust and other property transfer and incapacitated or vulnerable adults. It includes disagreements after someone dies or becomes incapacitated (disabled). Probate litigation includes disputes, disagreements and challenges over wills, intestate estates (where someone dies without a will or with a will that does not address all assets), trusts, property, deeds, payable on death accounts, property held in joint tenancy, powers of attorney, guardianships, conservatorships, undue influence, vulnerable or incapacitated adults, debts and creditor claims, exemptions from creditor claims, such as for life insurance, efforts to identify and recover estate property and many other issues, claims, disputes and disagreements.

Our lawyers have substantial experience in such matters and are here to try to help resolve your matter.  Here are some more specific examples of the types of matters with which we may be able to assist you:

Is the Document Valid?

For example, you might find yourself in a disagreement over whether your mother or father (or other person) validly adopted or amended his/her will or trust to reduce or increase your share of the property.  Or, perhaps the entire estate or trust was left to you and someone else is trying to challenge the gift.  We can likely help.  Our firm of experienced attorneys has assisted beneficiaries, personal representatives and trustees in a wide-variety of disputes concerning whether the trust or will was valid.

Or, maybe you suspect that the document was forged.  We can help you evaluate whether the document was valid and enforceable under Arizona law.  We have worked with forensic document examiners to evaluate the authenticity of signatures and handwritten (holographic) wills.

Did the Person Have Testamentary Capacity?

Another common situation is a dispute over whether the person had testamentary capacity (the mental ability) to legally sign a will, trust or other document, such as a deed or account agreement.  When someone is of unsound mind, the document may be challenged and set-aside through a will contest or trust contest lawsuit.  Resolving a dispute over testamentary capacity typically requires a meticulous review of the person’s estate planning documents (will, trust, deeds and other documents) and medical records, as well as interviews of medical professionals, hospice care workers and other witnesses, to determine whether he or she was of sound mind.

Our probate attorneys will perform a thorough and detail-oriented investigation concerning testamentary capacity.  We provide tenacious representation to challenge or uphold a contested document and helpful guidance to you along the way.

Was the Person Unduly Influenced?

Of course, a will or trust is supposed to reflect the true wishes of the person who adopts the document.  Not the wishes of anyone else.  Sometimes, a person is unduly influenced to make or change a will or trust.   So, Arizona law allows the challenge of a document where the person was unduly influenced – where someone else imposed their desires on the person who adopted the document.  Not all influence constitutes undue influence.

In order to properly pursue a trust or will contest based upon undue influence it is helpful to have an attorney who understands the law and can assist you in investigating all relevant facts and circumstances.  Our firm of estate litigation attorneys will take a careful approach to investigate and pursue or defend against claims of undue influence.

Is the Person’s Intent Unclear or Mistaken?

Or, perhaps your friend intended to leave you part of his property, but was mistaken that you did not need the money so he left you out.  Maybe the will or trust is unclear, either because of a drafting error or a change in circumstances.  If so, our attorneys may be able to assist you in resolving the matter.

Hire the Right Probate, Trust and Estate Litigation Attorney

These are just a few of the many situations that our estate litigation and probate attorneys have faced. Trust and estate litigation and probate law often involves complicated legal and factual issues.  So it is important to have the right attorney by your side.  Our experienced lawyers have diverse experience and are well-equipped to assist in a wide variety of probate, estate and trust related matters in Arizona.

Watch this video to learn more:

Learn more about trust disputes and trustee fiduciary duties.

Contact Our Experienced Probate, Trust and Estate Litigation Team

Our Scottsdale, Arizona estate litigation attorneys are ready and able to fight for or defend your rights. Most of our attorneys have actual trial experience. We are able to effectively present your case in court, if necessary. We also have extensive knowledge in a variety of other helpful areas of the law, including real estate, insurance, banking, personal injury and others. Our attorneys have worked with other professionals that are often helpful in probate matters, including accountants, financial advisors, forensic document examiners, bank and trust companies and medical professionals.

If you have any type of probate, estate or trust dispute, disagreement or lawsuit, our tough estate litigation and probate attorneys are here to help. Please do not hesitate to contact us anytime.