Emotions of family members and friends run high in the months after a loved one’s death. All too often, this can make the process of executing the will and handling the estate an adversarial one. You may find yourself in disagreements and arguments about your deceased family member’s final wishes and going toe-to-toe with beloved relatives.
At Bratton Law, our attorneys know your loved one would not want their death to cause a rift between siblings or complicate relationships with other family members. An estate litigation lawyer in Philadelphia will try to help you resolve disputes before litigation occurs or represent you in court if it becomes necessary.
Common Causes of Philadelphia Estate Disputes and Litigation
Most estate disputes occur in situations where the deceased left no will or estate plan. With a valid last will and testament written by a qualified Philadelphia estate planning attorney, there are few questions as to who your family member wanted to handle their estate and how they intended to distribute assets.
Other situations that can quickly lead to estate disputes and litigation include:
There Are Questions About the Validity of the Will
Most modern wills prepared by an estate law attorney will have two witness signatures and a notary stamp, making it easier to prove their validity. Still, sometimes the deceased created their will or estate plan on their own or using an online template. This validity of this type of will may be more difficult to confirm, or a potential heir may raise concerns for another reason.
A Potential Heir Claims “Lack of Capacity”
A lack of capacity claim can challenge even a seemingly valid will. This type of challenge centers on whether your loved one was competent and understood what they were doing when they made the will. If they did not, the will may not represent their true desires, and an older will may be more accurate.
Someone Left Out of the Will Claims Undue Influence
Like lack of capacity, undue influence can challenge an otherwise valid will. This most commonly occurs when one person or one part of the family receives more assets than the rest, and others think this is unfair or unusual based on their relationship with the deceased. This may make the other potential heirs believe this person coerced the deceased to change their will. Often, undue influence claims occur alongside lack of capacity claims.
Heirs Challenge the Estate Administrator
Because of the enormous responsibility placed on estate administrators, they need to have strong ethics and be competent to do the job. If a potential heir or other family member has concerns about the person named as executor or administrator, a dispute can occur. If there are false accusations raised against you, or if you believe an administrator is acting inappropriately, we can help you fight to defend your loved one’s legacy.
Let Our Philadelphia, PA Team Provide the Support You Need
At Bratton Law, we believe in an interdisciplinary approach to handling all your estate administration needs. We have a team ready to handle your estate dispute and litigation questions. That team includes:
- Estate law attorneys/paralegals
- Social workers
- A registered nurse
By focusing on your needs and the relationships you hope to salvage rather than looking at only the legal questions, we may be able to help you reach an agreement before you get to the point of litigation. We can help you mediate the dispute and deploy other dispute resolution tactics. If this is not effective, however, we will represent you to the Judge and fight for your loved one’s legacy in court.
Our Pennsylvania estate dispute and litigation services include:
- Helping you understand your options when you feel your loved one’s legacy is at stake
- Employing the most effective dispute resolution tactic for the situation
- Fighting to prevent litigation, when possible
- Protecting your reputation and best interests during a challenge
- Challenging the unethical acts of an administrator
- Ensuring assets get distributed in the way your loved one designated
- Representing you and your best interests in court, if necessary
In addition to helping you with estate disputes and litigation, the team from our estate planning law firm can help you with a wide range of other tasks. This includes helping you administer a Philadelphia estate or execute a will. Other services include:
- Explaining your duties as a will executor or estate administrator
- Helping you understand complex provisions of wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents
- Handling the Pennsylvania probate process on your behalf
- Investigating undue influence and lack of capacity claims
- Challenging the validity of wills
- Getting appraisals and determining the overall value of an estate
- Handling the payment of outstanding debts and final bills
- Funding trusts, making charitable gifts, and other provisions included in the will
- Creating your own estate plan that reduces the risk of a dispute over your estate after your death
Talk to an Estate Litigation Lawyer in Philadelphia Today
At Bratton Law, our estate litigation lawyers can employ effective dispute resolution strategies that may keep your loved one’s will out of litigation. We know how important your relationships with your family are, and the damage this type of disagreement can cause. We will give you the support and tools you need to solve the dispute before it leads to a lawsuit and permanent rifts between family members. If we cannot avoid litigation, our attorneys will represent you in court. We will protect your reputation and the legacy of your loved one throughout this process.
Call our Philadelphia estate litigation team today at 856-857-6007.