Probate and Trust Litigation

Estate litigation primarily occurs when beneficiaries contest or attempt to invalidate a will, estate, or trust. However, litigation may also be necessary in any number of circumstances. When this happens, it is not enough to be aware of the applicable statutes and laws regarding trust formation and will execution. It is also important to have the skill and knowledge to develop effective litigation strategies regarding these instruments.

Will Contests

One of the most common legal proceedings regarding an individual’s estate is a will contest. The purpose of a will contest is to obtain a legal ruling on whether or not the instrument is valid, as well as a finding as to who is entitled to benefit from it. Several types of scenarios may lead to a will contest. For example, a decedent’s beneficiaries may have found two conflicting wills, may allege that a will has been revoked or amended, or may contend that undue influence, fraud, or lack of mental capacity affected the decedent, or testator.

Trust Disputes in Tennessee

Trusts are another type of estate planning instrument that often require litigation to resolve issues. Executors and trustees are roles that require the utmost good faith, diligence, and prudence. Because of this, executors and trustees are said to hold a fiduciary duty, which requires them to not only act in good faith but also distribute assets correctly and expeditiously.

When there is a suspected breach of fiduciary duties, parties may seek to remove or change an executor or trustee. Tennessee law is very clear that a hearing must be held before a trustee is removed. A petition for removal must assert a ground for removing the trustee, such as the violation of a trust, mental or physical incapacity, or other good cause. At the hearing, the trustee is allowed to present evidence on his or her own behalf. A court may then make a ruling as to whether or not the trustee ought to be removed and appoint a successor trustee if necessary.

Litigation Involving Medical or Financial Decisions

We all want what is best for our loved ones. All adults are presumed capable of making their own legal decisions, whether financial or medical. Powers of Attorney are helpful to direct who will make decisions should an adult be unable to make their own decisions. It is important to note that a power of attorney merely allows a third party to make decisions for an adult. However, when dementia or mental illness is present, it may be necessary to remove an adult’s decision-making powers with a conservatorship.

We Can Help

We understand how hard the loss of a loved one can be. Court proceedings are the last thing that you want to experience during this time. However, we pride ourselves on bringing comfort during these difficult times. Whether you need help with probate, administering an estate of any size, or litigation, we stand ready to help you. Our goal is to keep our clients informed, comforted, and stress-free.