Sun City Probate Litigation Lawyer

The law needs a way to wrap up the affairs of anyone who dies. Probate is the primary method for dealing with those affairs: identifying the property that is or should be part of the estate, dealing with claims that the deceased owed debts, finding and collecting debts owed to the deceased, and, probably the most important of all, determining what the deceased wanted done with the estate’s assets. For these reasons, consulting a seasoned Sun City probate litigation lawyer is of the utmost importance.

It can be a simple, uncomplicated process, or the exact opposite, involving lengthy battles over any one of several issues. Many times, unfortunately, the affairs of people who die simply aren’t orderly and the deceased’s wishes aren’t as clear as they should be.

Probate disputes not only hold up the final settling of the estate, they always have the potential to tear families apart, separating them into warring camps. These disputes may reflect genuine disagreements about what the deceased really wanted, or arise from longtime family rivalries and resentments. It’s not uncommon for people who cared for the deceased during lengthy periods of illness and weakness to have influenced the will, or for relatives to think that. In all cases, probate disputes are stressful, time-consuming, and expensive.

Types of Probate in Arizona

Arizona law provides for three different types of probate, depending on how complicated and disputed the estate is.

Informal probate is the simplest, shortest, and least expensive. If the will satisfies the basic requirements for validity and hasn’t been challenged, the personal representative who has been appointed to handle the estate does so with very little oversight from the court.

Supervised probate, which requires the approval of the court for actions in dealing with the estate. Supervised probate can be requested by anyone interested in the estate, from beneficiaries to the personal representative himself. The procedure is generally used when there is the potential for disputes, but none have actually arisen.

Formal probate, for estates that involve disputes of some kind, for example whether the will is valid. Formal probate involves whatever proceedings are needed to resolve the estate, potentially including formal trials and hearings, using the usual tools of litigation like depositions and discovery.

There’s also a “streamlined probate” for small estates, valued at less than $50,000. If you have any questions regarding the different types of probate in Arizona, it is best to speak with an experienced Sun City estate planning lawyer at Gorman & Jones, PLC.

Disputes Challenging the Will

The will is the pillar of probate. Challenging its validity is the most fundamental of disputes, which is why you need a knowledgeable Sun City probate litigation lawyer on your side. There are several different grounds for challenging a will:

  • Failure to comply with the formal requirements of the state: This type of dispute tends to be technical and is usually simple if based on the formalities required of all wills. The dispute gets a lot more complex and time-consuming if it concerns claims of forgery or some type of fraud.
  • Claims that the will itself meets the formal requirements for validity, but that it is not the deceased’s final will: These disputes can be extremely difficult as the parties attempt to establish when the supposedly later will was actually drawn up, and whether the deceased was competent at that time and/or under undue influence.
  • Claims that the deceased did not have the needed mental capacity to make the will at the time it was made: These disputes usually involve considerable testimony, both “lay” and professional, as to the deceased’s mental ability, and evidence of other acts close to the time the will was made that indicate how competent the deceased was.
  • Claims that someone, usually a caregiver or a particularly close friend and/or relative, exerted so much influence over the terms of the will that it doesn’t reflect the deceased’s real intentions: These disputes are similar in some ways to claims of the deceased’s lack of capacity. They also typically require considerable testimony and other evidence.

Other Common Probate Disputes

There are several other types of probate disputes that the Sun City probate litigation attorneys at Gorman & Jones, PLC would like to make you aware of. These include:

  • Efforts by the personal representative to recover estate property that was transferred to others before death
  • Resolving the validity and/or amount of claims that others are asserting against the estate
  • Claims that the personal representative has acted so improperly in dealing with the estate that he has breached his fiduciary duty
  • Disputes over the meaning of terms in the will, such as whether a specific person should be considered a “child” of the deceased

Call a Sun City Probate Litigation Lawyer If You’re Facing a Dispute

At the law firm of Gorman & Jones, PLC, we know how stressful and confusing probate disputes can be. They can drag on for months or even years, leaving everyone involved uncertain and anxious. Whatever your role in a probate dispute – executor, heir, creditor, trustee – we have the experience and detailed knowledge of Arizona probate law to see you through the dispute as quickly and painlessly as possible.

And, of course, we will be happy to help you with the very best way of dealing with probate disputes: meticulous estate planning that keeps disputes from ever arising. Personal attention is our hallmark. We make sure we understand your concerns and make sure you’re aware of all the ramifications of every action we recommend. Contact us today for the legal assistance you need to handle an existing probate dispute or to plan a strategy to ensure that disputes will not occur after you’re gone.

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