After a loved one passes away, the emotions of friends and family members can run hot. In some cases, this can trigger disputes among potential heirs who all believe they know best what their deceased loved one wanted. This type of dispute can quickly lead to litigation and tear a family apart. An estate litigation lawyer in Cape May, NJ at Bratton Estate & Elder Care Attorneys will work to resolve these disagreements before they get out of hand and can also represent you if you need to defend your loved one’s legacy in court.
At Bratton Estate & Elder Care Attorneys, our estate litigation attorneys take a unique and interdisciplinary approach to mediating this type of conflict. We strive to help our clients reach an agreement without resorting to court but have plenty of litigation experience to provide you with aggressive representation if necessary.
In Cape May, call our office today at 856-857-6007 to make an appointment.
What Causes Cape May, New Jersey Estate Disputes?
Estate disputes can tear apart entire families, creating rifts between siblings and distancing family members. In some cases, they lead to long-standing feuds. They can create factions within the family that last for decades or even generations. This is likely the last thing their recently departed loved one would have wanted, but it happens all too often. Fortunately, most of these disputes are preventable by creating a clear and legal will that outlines your final wishes and the distribution of your assets.
There are a few circumstances that lead to family disputes and estate litigation more often than others. While we can help you with any disagreement that you believe may lead to legal action, we see these situations most frequently:
The Deceased Left No Written Will
The quickest way to a family dispute over inheritance is to leave no will. If there is no written and legally binding will, there is no way to prove for certain what the deceased wanted to happen to their estate. This leaves family members guessing who should be in charge of handling the estate, and who will inherit which assets.
They Left a Will, But It May Not Be Valid
It is important that a will be valid. A will written but never notarized leaves too much room for error. We recommend using an estate planning attorney to prepare your will. Most wills today are self-proving, which means it contains witness signatures and a notary stamp. Not only does this make it easy to prove validity, but it also makes entering the will into probate much easier.
They Were Not Operating with Full Mental Capacity When They Wrote the Will
Even if your family member had a valid will, there may be questions about their state of mind when they wrote it. Called “lack of capacity,” this is a common reason family members challenge valid wills and estate plans. We can help you fight a will you believe does not represent the true wishes of your loved one or defend their legacy against this type of allegation.
There Was Undue Influence on the Will
Another common reason family members challenge otherwise valid wills is because of undue influence. This issue often comes up when they alter the will shortly before their death and leave a large percentage of their estate to a single heir or a single part of the family.
While there may be a valid reason for this, it will likely face undue influence challenges. This means the heirs removed from the will believe those who benefit from it somehow convinced their loved one to give them a larger portion of the assets. This allegation sometimes occurs alongside a lack of capacity claims.
There Are Issues (Or Alleged Issues) with the Estate Administrator
Estate administrators have a lot of responsibility, including control over every asset in the estate for a short time. If someone questions their handling of the money, their competency, or if their actions are ethical, it can create a much larger issue.
If you are the administrator in question, we can defend your reputation against accusations of mishandling assets and other wrongdoing. Alternatively, we can raise the necessary concern if you believe the administrator of your loved one’s estate is not acting in a fair and ethical way.
Services Provided by a New Jersey Estate Litigation Lawyer
We can help you understand what you have to lose in a New Jersey estate dispute, and fight to ensure you do not lose it.
If you are the administrator of an estate or the executor of a will and a dispute arises, an estate litigation attorney serves as an ally who can protect your reputation from allegations of unethical behavior. If you are a family member fighting for your fair share of your loved one’s estate from an unscrupulous administrator, we will fight to ensure you receive the full assets designated for you.
Our attorneys have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you handle your estate dispute, no matter your circumstances. We can deploy proven, effective dispute resolution strategies to help you reach an agreement with the other party, or we can pursue litigation if it becomes obvious they will not compromise.
We also provide a full complement of estate administration services to our clients. This includes:
- Explaining your duties as administrator
- Helping you understand wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents
- Walking you through New Jersey probate
- Navigating the estate administration process for you
- Investigating undue influence and/or lack of capacity claims
- Valuation of assets, including identifying appropriate appraisal professionals
- The payment of debts and final bills
- Funding trusts as described in the will
- Assistance with calculating the tax burden, and other tax questions
- Removal of an unfit estate administrator
- Defending against allegations you are an unfit estate administrator
Talk to an Estate Litigation Attorney in Cape May, New Jersey, Today
The estate litigation attorneys from Bratton Estate & Elder Care Attorneys can give you the legal advice and support you are looking for when a dispute among potential heirs turns into a lawsuit. We will work to settle the disagreement before anyone resorts to litigation, and attempt to solve the issues at hand while treating your loved one’s legacy with dignity. We can engage in a number of dispute resolution tactics but will aggressively represent you in front of the judge if that is the best path to quickly resolve the issue.
You can reach a member of our Cape May estate litigation team today at 856-857-6007.