Phoenix Probate and Trust Litigation Attorneys
Serving Maricopa County Beneficiaries, Trustees and Executors
When a grantor creates a trust or a testator drafts a will, it’s intended to ensure that property is cared for and distributed according to the creator’s wishes. Unfortunately, problems sometimes arise in the probate process or trust administration. While litigation isn’t anyone’s first choice, it’s often the best way–and sometimes the only way–to protect the estate or trust property and ensure that the creator’s wishes are carried out.
Whether you have doubts about the validity of a will or trust, are concerned about the way an estate or trust is being managed, or suspect theft or other inappropriate activity on the part of an executor or trustee, it’s in your best interest to get knowledgeable guidance right away. Similarly, if you are an executor or trustee who has been accused of wrongdoing or are facing a contest to the validity of the will or trust, you shouldn’t try to manage it alone.
Some types of will and trust litigation are subject to strict time limits. And, delaying action when you suspect mismanagement or misappropriation may mean assets are lost forever. So, it’s important to get the advice you need as soon as possible. An experienced estate and trust litigation attorney like the ones at Anthony Law Group can help you understand your rights and make good decisions about how to move forward. ,
Will and Trust Contests
Will contests are among the most common types of estate litigation. A will contest arises when an interested party asserts that the will submitted to the probate court isn’t valid for some reason. The reasons range from the will not having been executed properly to claims that the document is a forgery or that the creator of the will lacked the capacity to know what he or she was doing at the time the will was signed.
Trusts may be contested for similar reasons, although the process is slightly different.
Other Probate and Trust Litigation
While will contests are among the most common types of probate litigation, there are other matters that may need to be resolved through litigation. Many of these involve failures or breaches of duty on the part of the executor or the trustee.
Some common examples include:
- Mismanagement of the estate or trust, such as failure to preserve assets for the beneficiaries
- Failure to perform the statutory duties of an executor, such as filing taxes on behalf of the estate
- Failure to carry out the duties of the trustee as set forth in the trust documents, such as making scheduled payments to beneficiaries
- Misappropriation of assets from a trust or estate, generally by converting assets intended for beneficiaries for personal use by the executor/trustee or someone else
- Breach of fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of a trust or estate, such as placing his or her own interests above those of the beneficiaries
Failures and breaches like the ones listed above can be grounds for removal of a trustee or executor. It is important to note, however, that an executor can’t be removed simply because you don’t think he or she is doing a great job. Courts generally recognize that most executors and trustees aren’t professionals in the field, but family members and friends who may be navigating new territory. While they’re responsible for fulfilling their duties under Arizona law and under the terms of the will or the trust, they aren’t expected to be financial experts.
Courts will typically remove a fiduciary who breaches fiduciary duty, appropriates assets for his or her own use, or otherwise acts in bad faith and against the interests of the beneficiaries. But, not every failure of a trustee or executor will give rise to removal. In some cases, the remedy–at least, at first–will simply be for the court to order the trustee or executor to carry out the neglected tasks, make a report to the court, or perform some other duty within a specified time.
An experienced estate litigation attorney can be your best source of information about whether the issues you have identified might warrant removal of an executor.
Talk to an Experienced Arizona Estate and Trust Litigation Attorney
At the Anthonoy Law Group, we know the technicalities of trusts and estates can be difficult to sort out. That’s true no matter what your role. Beneficiaries who feel something isn’t being handled correctly often don’t understand their rights or how to take action. Executors and trustees who are doing their best with a tough job may feel confused and attacked when a beneficiary objects to the way assets are being managed or makes an accusation of misappropriation or breach of fiduciary duty.
We make it easy to learn more about your rights and options. Give yourself the peace of mind that comes with knowledgeable guidance: Please call 602-362-2396 or contact us online. Flexible appointments available.