As the old Benjamin Franklin adage says, nothing is certain except death and taxes. When settling an estate after death, both realities become vitally important. An estate is a legal entity comprised of a person’s assets. Estate administration is the process of dividing those assets between creditors and beneficiaries after death. Having an experienced probate and estate lawyer on your side prevents initial issues in estate administration and ensures that, if problems do arise, beneficiaries receive their assets in full.
When considering estate administration, especially if the administration goes awry, an experienced probate and estate lawyer like those at Bratton Law Firm can guide you through the complex web of New Jersey’s estate and eldercare laws. We’ll ensure the money goes to the deceased’s loved ones instead of being wasted on unnecessary taxes and investments.
Estate Disputes that Lead to Litigation
In an ideal world, every person who passes will leave a clear, valid will that beneficiaries and creditors agree on. This would make the estate administration process go smoothly without unforeseen issues. All creditors would have their debts paid, and the leftover estate would be divided among beneficiaries. However, in many cases, there is no valid will, and potential beneficiaries cannot reach an agreement on the distribution of assets. This is where estate litigation becomes vital to ensure a division of the deceased’s assets in a fair, legal process. Some common issues addressed in estate litigation are:
- Attacks on a will’s validity: This includes both the validity of the will and the validity of the executor (the person responsible for settling debts and dividing assets, often named within the will). There are multiple ways that a will becomes invalid. Two of the most common are lack of capacity and claims of undue influence.
- Lack of capacity: For a will to be valid, the deceased must have fully understood the document before signing. Sometimes there are issues, temporary or permanent, that impact the deceased’s decision-making ability. In that case, a court may decide that the deceased lacked the capacity to enter into a legal agreement, making the will invalid.
- Claims of undue influence: The deceased also needs to make their own decisions while writing their will without pressure from outside parties or beneficiaries. If there is pressure from one or more beneficiaries to favor or exclude those outlined in the will, that is considered undue influence. It also invalidates the will.
Schedule a Consultation with an Experienced Estate Litigation Lawyer
Do you need to speak with an expert in estate litigation? The skilled probate and estate lawyers at Bratton Law Firm have helped hundreds of people navigate the ins and outs of New Jersey’s estate and elder law care. We help ensure our clients receive the assets they were entitled to after a loved one’s passing.
Our award-winning team has offices in Haddonfield, Linwood, Ewing, NJ, and Philadelphia, PA. For a consultation with a knowledgeable estate attorney, call our offices at (856) 857-6007 or contact us through our website today