Is Your Estate At Risk for Probate LitigationThe process of challenging the provisions of a will, trust, or estate-planning document is known as probate litigation? While many estates are settled smoothly, some will be contested in Texas probate court litigation. Estates with the following factors are at the highest risk for probate litigation:
- Multiple Marriages
- Dysfunctional Family
- Nonstandard Estate Plans
- Unsuitable Agent
- Failure to update beneficiaries
A probate litigation attorney can help you uphold the wishes of your loved ones. With intimate knowledge of the Texas Probate Code, Keith Morris can help solve the problems posed by estates that are at risk for probate litigation.
The second marriage situation can lead to the classical probate litigation case: the children of the first marriage versus the spouse from the second marriage. Probate drama that involves children is always very fragile, and a probate litigation attorney has experience working through multiple marriages without pre or postnuptial agreements. These contracts define ownership of assets, and without them – estates connecting multiple families through marriage can get messy. Let Keith Morris & Stacy Kelly, Attorneys at Law help answer questions about multiple marriage estate plans and probate.
There is an old saying about your family – you can’t choose them, but you can ignore their calls. Family dysfunction is a common risk factor for probate issues. Families with poor relationships often become tangled in a seemingly endless web of estate litigation. Some examples of family estate dysfunction:
- Purposely removing a family member from an estate plan
- Tampering with a final will or trust
- Improper control over an estate
- Unlawful estate plans
Nonstandard Estate Plans
Unusual or complex estate plans are ripe for probate litigation. One example is leaving substantial assets to an unknown or surprise beneficiary. While this idea has been popularized by movies and music, the surprise beneficiary complicates an estate. The family often chooses the route of probate litigation for review of the process that added the formerly unknown recipient.
The best way to avoid creating a complex estate is to involve an experienced estate planning attorney who can advise your family on features that help avoid litigation. Planning ahead can help avoid a legal battle for the distribution of assets.
The agent, or executor, of an asset, has the responsibility of making sure your wishes are honored after your passing. Choosing a trustworthy, organized, and intelligent executor can help mitigate problems by following the directions you set forth in the estate plan. Keith Morris has worked with many families who simply need help managing an unsuitable agent. Our leadership skills and probate knowledge can work for your family.
Failure to Update Beneficiaries
Estate plans are working documents. Unfortunately, many people view their estate planning as a “one and done” process and fail to update beneficiaries as needed. Families grow, adding new generations and new potential recipients. Other times families shrink and estate documents will list recipients that no longer reside within the confines of the family. View your estate plan on an annual basis to confirm your choices and avoid outdated estates with a risk for probate litigation.