The passing of a loved one is a difficult time for everyone. This is particularly true when emotional disputes arise over inheritance and the person’s estate. Relationships can be pushed to the breaking point, sometimes leading to severe fights among siblings and other family members over their respective inheritances. If you find yourself in a fight over a loved one’s estate, Colorado Springs estate litigation attorney Patterson Weaver can help.
If the deceased left a proper will or trust, our team may be able to quickly resolve your dispute. Our estate litigation attorneys can also help resolve more complex disputes, such as when there is no will or when there is a disagreement over the validity or true intent of a will or trust. Our skilled estate litigation lawyers can help you understand your rights, protect your interests, and put you in the best position to secure a positive outcome in your case.
If you find yourself in a fight over a loved one’s estate, contact us today for a free consultation with a Colorado Springs estate litigation attorney. Our law firm has extensive experience handling highly complex will and trust contests on large estates. Based in Colorado Springs, our firm works with individuals and families across the state, including El Paso County, Pueblo County, Teller County, and surrounding areas.
Why Do “Will Contests” Occur?
Many people understand the importance of having a will in place to express their wishes regarding their estate. However, people often do not realize the problems that can arise by attempting to express their wishes in writing without the help of an attorney. In some cases, even if the deceased had the help of an attorney, a family member or someone close to the deceased may have unduly influenced an individual so that the instructions in the will were not representative of the deceased’s actual intentions.
On top of these complexities, the matters associated with a will arise during a very difficult time. A loved one has passed on, and emotions may be running high. There are potentially volatile issues to deal with, many personalities may be involved, and there may be family members and other beneficiaries harboring unresolved feelings. This is a potent blend, and one that can lead to serious misunderstandings and conflict.
While every contested will case is different, probate and trust litigation can occur for any of the following reasons:
- Dispute regarding a holographic (handwritten) will – There can be many problems associated with a handwritten will. Even finding a handwritten will may be difficult since it could be packed away in a desk, in storage, or in some hidden corner. There must be sufficient evidence that the document was intended as the decedent’s final will and testament and that it was written in the decedent’s own handwriting. Handwriting experts may come into play, along with other factors.
- Dispute in interpretation of a will – There can be many complications when interpreting a will, especially when there are multiple marriages involved and children from different marriages. There is often a question of who will pay for certain things – such as real estate taxes. There may be competing interests that can be tough to navigate. An experienced attorney can help sort it all out.
- Multiple competing potential wills – When there is more than one will, many questions may arise. This could happen because the deceased had property in more than one state, a will may have been updated without invalidating the old will, there was overly influential pressure to create a new will, and more. In any of these cases, a skilled Colorado Springs estate litigation lawyer is needed to review evidence and help build a case to support the validity of your claim.
- Concern regarding undue influence of an individual over the deceased, resulting in a will that perhaps did not reflect the wishes of the deceased – When you can’t go back and ask someone what their intentions were, it can be difficult to discern the truth. An estate litigation lawyer can help you meticulously review evidence to uncover the true wishes of the deceased.
- Lack of capacity to execute a will – There are times when the mental competence of a testator is questionable. For example, the testator may have suffered from mental illness or dementia, and it may be difficult to prove that they were fully aware of what they were doing when the will was executed.
- Lack of testamentary intent (a document was not intended to be a will) – People may question whether the document was actually intended to serve as the deceased’s last will and testament.
How Our Colorado Springs Estate Litigation Lawyers Help Beneficiaries
There are times when a beneficiary is blocked out of an inheritance because a will was improperly created, the terms are unclear, or a personal representative fails to communicate clearly with beneficiaries. If this is the case, you need a trusted Colorado Springs estate litigation lawyer to be your advocate during what might be a difficult fight for your rights. We can help you build a case for what is rightfully yours by:
- Gathering and reviewing all documentation to help you understand the terms of the decedent’s will or trust, as well as the state laws that apply to the will or trust
- Reviewing your options for contesting the validity of a will or trust and filing your case in court
- Collecting and reviewing all available evidence to build a compelling claim on your behalf
- Helping you determine whether the personal representative is capable of fulfilling their role
- Communicating with the personal representative and other beneficiaries on your behalf
- Protecting you from harassment by other involved parties
- Aggressively advocating for your rights in negotiations and in court
Our legal team has many years of experience providing a full range of probate services. Let us take the pressure off you. Contact us today to learn more about our legal services.
How Our Colorado Springs Estate Litigation Lawyers Help Fiduciaries
As the fiduciary of an estate, you are obligated to preserve trust and good faith for the beneficiaries. Your actions must fall within legal and ethical boundaries. Even when you are doing everything you can in good conscience, conflicts can arise. Our estate attorneys are here to help. We can help you with:
- Proper accounting of the estate
- The management and distribution of a trust
- The management and distribution of assets
- Defense of your conduct as fiduciary
- Interactions between guardian and ward
- Interpreting and handling instructions from the court
- Dealing with an individual or organization holding power of attorney
Understanding the Estate Administration Process
Whether you are on either side of an estate matter – as a beneficiary or a fiduciary – you may not have the experience needed to navigate the legal complications that can arise. Estate administration is the process of collecting and managing the estate. This involves paying any debts and taxes, as well as distributing property to the heirs of the estate.
The personal representative’s role in administering the estate includes:
- Obtaining the death certificate
- Searching for and doing a complete review of the deceased’s assets and liabilities
- Assessing the value of the deceased’s assets
- Going through probate if necessary
- Managing rightful distribution of assets among heirs and creditors
It can get complicated, and there is no room for error. Our capable estate attorneys can help guide you through the process and address any conflicts that arise. Contact our Colorado Springs law office today to get started.
What Will Be the Cost of Hiring an Attorney to Help Me Fight for My Inheritance?
Every case is different. No inheritance attorney can give you an exact quote on the fees for your particular situation without first speaking with you regarding the case. However, Patterson Weaver Law, LLC provides a free consultation, so there is no risk to getting our legal opinion. Then we offer actual representation on the basis of either an hourly rate or a contingent fee. Which of these two approaches is possible and best for your situation depends on the type of case, the complexity of the situation, the novelty of the legal issues involved, the amount of work likely involved, and the size of the estate at issue. For cases appropriate for a contingent fee, our probate attorneys do not collect any fee unless we can help you successfully collect money or assets.
When Should I Contact an Attorney Regarding My Inheritance?
Time is of the essence in probate litigation and contested will cases. You should consult with a qualified attorney immediately upon realizing there is a dispute over your inheritance. If you wait too long, it may be impossible for an attorney to help you collect what was intended for you. There are a number of deadlines that apply to these types of cases — don’t take the chance of missing them. Schedule a free consultation today.
Get the Legal Advice You Need Now
Call Patterson Weaver Law, LLC today for a free consultation with an experienced Colorado Springs estate law attorney. We work with individuals and families throughout the Colorado Springs area and across the state. Our team has extensive experience in estate planning, estate administration, and civil litigation. We can help you understand your rights and navigate through this difficult time. Life happens. Let us help.