Common Types of Estate Planning Cases
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What Are Some Common Types of Estate Planning Cases?
Estate planning is a complicated area of law that requires legal representatives to work closely with individuals who are designated as representatives of a deceased person’s estate. Usually a person is named as an executor or executrix of a will and assigned responsibility to oversee legal processes related to the distribution of the estate. This can lead to many different kinds of estate planning cases and lawsuits due to a number of potential conflicts that arise during the legal process.
- Fraudulent Transfers: Since transferring property or wealth takes the assets out of the reach of creditors for the person conducting the transfer, these transfers must be conducted according to legal guidelines set forth by the UFTA. If the person transferring the property by estate planning is left bankrupt by the transfer, the transfer may constitute constructive fraud. Actual fraud is defined in section 4(b) of the UFTA. Charges of actual fraud can arise under a number of different circumstances such as insider transfers and concealment of assets.
- Suing an Executor: The executor of a will can be sued if there is evidence of improper or illegal distribution of property or inheritance.
- Undue Influence: If family members or other persons with interest in a will suspect that the person who made the will was under distressing persuasion from another party, particularly one with interest in the will, an undue influence case might result. The person writing the will may have been sick or weak, physically or mentally, and unable to make sound decisions about the will, or a “confidential relationship” caused the deceased to make financial distributions that are illegal or unfair. These matters are generally settled in probate court.
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty: A person named in a will as a personal representative has specific and legally mandated responsibility to ensure accurate, fair, and legal distribution of the assets. In addition to paying debts and inheritances, communicating with those who stand to inherit and keeping track of asset market value is also a personal representative’s job. Neglecting any part of these duties could lead to a breach of fiduciary duty case if loss of wealth and assets results.
How Are Estate Planning Cases Resolved?
Some estate planning cases are settled through informal discussions amongst the parties involved, or in non-adversarial processes such as mediation. Other cases are taken to probate court for resolution. The court may order that the executor be removed or changed, or devise a new distribution of assets and wealth according to trusts and estates law. If significant losses have occurred as a result of illegal estate planning, a court may give a monetary award as part of its decision.
What Are Some Defenses in Estate Planning Cases?
The nature of the defense will depend on the nature of the estate planning case. Some estate issues must be addressed within a specific period of time. If the statute of limitations has expired on a particular estate claim, the defendant can request dismissal of the case.
In matters of undue influence, a successful defense could be to show that a third party was involved and gave similar advice. Another defense for undue influence is to show the court that the final distribution of assets wasn’t unfair or illegal.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with an Estate Planning Case?
Estate planning cases rely on technicalities of both finance and law that are sometimes difficult for the interested and affected parties to understand. An estate lawyer will be useful in translating the jargon of financial and estate law to his or her clients. If disputes arise, an estate lawyer will represent you during the litigation process.
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Last Modified: 03-08-2016 03:55 PM PST
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