Estate matters have to do with the assets left by a person at death, and the transfer of such assets to the intended beneficiaries. Probate is the court supervised transfer of a person’s assets at death to the intended beneficiaries. Even if a person leaves a will, probate is still necessary to determine the validity of the will and to oversee the implementation of its provisions. Trusts avoid the need for probate, i.e., the trustee transfers the assets to the beneficiaries without court supervision. Any of these matters can result in the carrying on of a legal contest in the court system, which is called litigation.
Unfortunately, disputes may arise in these areas in many ways. When a parent dies without a will or trust but has left an estate, the children due to inherit by law may squabble about who is to be in charge of the estate or how the assets are to be divided. Where a decedent has left a will or trust, a party may question its fairness or validity. For example, a disinherited son may believe that a stepparent unduly influenced the father to disinherit the son. In the case of a trust, a beneficiary may suspect that the trustee, the person managing the trust, is embezzling from the trust or endangering the assets with high-risk investments. Since a trust is not court supervised, there is a higher chance of misappropriation and mishandling of trust assets by the trustee.
The law in these matters is complex and calls for the expertise of a qualified attorney to assure one’s rights are being protected. If you or a family member is involved in an estate, trust or probate matter, you should contact a trust and probate litigation attorney in Orange County.