Estate Litigation Lawyers in Delaware County
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Litigation involving Wills, Trusts, and Estates is a growing area of law. Controversies among families are emotional and delicate and require experience and sensitivity due to the stakes involved. These matters can divide a family, especially when someone acts inappropriately for his or her own financial gain at the expense of others.
General Litigation Matters
The Martin Law Firm, P.C. estate litigation services include the following:
Personal Representative Duties
The Personal Representative (executor or administrator) have the same responsibilities and duties and they must perform certain tasks required by Pennsylvania law. The usual tasks are:
One of the most common estate litigation matters is when a family member challenges or contests the validity of a Will. This often occurs when an individual was left out of the Will entirely or the individual did not receive a fair share. If a person successfully contests a Will, the Will is deemed invalid or unenforceable. When this occurs, the decedent’s estate will be distributed according to the terms of a prior Will or, if none exists, the estate will be distributed pursuant to the Pennsylvania Intestacy Laws. Some of the common grounds to contest a Will are the following:
Breach Of Fiduciary Duty
A fiduciary is a person who stands in a position of trust. Fiduciaries are held to the highest standard of care and must act in the best interest of another person. An executor of a Will, an administrator of an estate, or a trustee of a Trust is considered a “fiduciary” under Pennsylvania law. In this context, the fiduciary must act in the best interests of the beneficiaries of the estate.
A claim for breach of fiduciary duty usually involves an allegation that a person made poor investments, mismanaged trust or estate assets, engaged in self-dealing, favored certain beneficiaries, or other questionable decisions. These claims, if proven, can subject the fiduciary to a surcharge, damages for lost profits, damages for lost principal and interest, and termination or replacement.
A typical defense for any action for breach of fiduciary duty is to show that the actions of the executor, administrator or trustee are compliant with Pennsylvania law and within the bounds of the relevant Will or Trust. For example, a dispute involving a trustee’s financial investments would hinge upon whether a judge may understand those investments to be prudent investments considering all of the circumstances.
Spousal Elective Share
A surviving spouse has legal rights and remedies in situations when the deceased spouse disinherits the surviving spouse. Under Pennsylvania law, when a married person who is a resident of Pennsylvania passes away, the surviving spouse has a right to an elective share of one-third of the following property:
The surviving spouse does not have a right to an elective share of the following property:
Litigating the spousal elective share requires a careful analysis of each asset to determine whether it is inclusive in the surviving spouse’s claim. In some instances, a particular asset may not fit squarely within an inclusion or exclusion. When this occurs, the parties to the dispute must reconcile the dispute through a settlement or a persuasive argument must be presented to the Court for a positive judicial outcome.
Estate Litigation Attorneys - The Martin Law Firm, P.C.
Litigation involving Wills, Trusts and Estates requires experience with the process and procedure of the Orphans’ Court and knowledge of the law. The Martin Law Firm estate litigation attorneys are very careful to analyze each new case to establish the likelihood of success and to convey this to the client so the client can make an informed decision about whether to proceed. Litigation matters are lengthy, time consuming and sometimes costly. As such, these matters should only be considered when the facts and circumstances of the case are likely to lead to a favorable outcome. Contact the Martin Law Firm, P.C. today at (215) 646-3980.
Our legal team provides individualized legal solutions for our clients by offering high quality legal counsel and representation in diverse areas of law. Our attorneys regularly represent clients throughout Southeast Pennsylvania, including Montgomery County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Philadelphia County.
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