Orange County Inheritance Disputes Attorney
Creating a comprehensive estate plan is one of the best things anyone can do to limit uncertainty and minimize the chance of disputes arising over the inheritance. When a family member dies, their surviving loved ones must manage personal grief and various legal issues that might arise from the death. One of these issues is an inheritance or the passing of property ownership rights from the deceased to their beneficiaries.
Legal Representation for Orange County, CA, Inheritance Disputes
If the deceased does not have an estate plan, the legal proceedings involved in the inheritance process unfold in probate. This complex and time-consuming process may require months of protracted litigation to complete. Probate is also prone to generating complex and emotionally charged inheritance disputes.
Unfortunately, even a seemingly comprehensive estate plan is vulnerable to inheritance disputes in several ways. For example, it’s possible for conflicting beneficiary designations to arise or for heirs to accuse other interested parties of illegally coercing the estate owner into making the designations included in their estate plan. It’s also possible for an executor of the deceased’s estate or a trustee to face accusations of mismanaging the estate.
The Flanigan Law Group has over 30 years of experience handling all types of estate litigation, including inheritance disputes. We understand the emotional weight these cases typically carry and the uncertainty family members can face when they encounter unforeseen inheritance disputes. Navigating these emotionally charged cases is much easier when you have an experienced Orange County inheritance disputes attorney on your side.
Why Should I Hire an Orange County Inheritance Disputes Lawyer?
Disputes that arise between members of the same family following the death of a prominent family member are emotionally stressful for everyone involved. Facing these legal proceedings and remaining objective about the various practical factors in play can be incredibly challenging. Your Orange County inheritance disputes attorney can provide the measured legal counsel you need to approach your case with greater confidence.
Resolving inheritance disputes often requires careful review of the estate planning documents in question, the extensive discovery of the estate owner’s assets and property, and thorough evaluation of their heirs and beneficiaries and any behaviors that may preclude them from obtaining disbursements from the estate. For example, a comprehensive estate plan often includes specific conditions for many beneficiaries. A dispute can arise if one beneficiary believes another has effectively voided their right to claim a portion of the deceased’s estate.
Ultimately, hiring an Orange County inheritance disputes lawyer makes it much easier to approach your case and the related legal proceedings with confidence. Your attorney can help you determine whether a dispute is credible, assist in investigating the details of the dispute, and help you reach a fair and balanced outcome to your inheritance dispute case by leveraging available evidence and information.
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost for Inheritance Dispute Cases?
It’s natural to be concerned about how much your Orange County inheritance disputes attorney will charge for their services. You are already embroiled in a difficult financial situation, so adding further financial challenges can be incredibly stressful for you and your family. Most attorneys charge their clients by the hour. The more time an attorney must spend handling a case, the more it costs their client. However, some Orange County inheritance disputes attorneys will offer flat rates based on the perceived complexity of a case. There are many ways an attorney might choose to handle billing. Before agreeing to their services, make sure you fully understand an attorney’s billing policy.
Common Causes of Inheritance Disputes
An inheritance dispute arises whenever an heir, beneficiary, or other interested party raises concerns over the handling of a deceased person’s estate or the process of intestate succession. Some of the most commonly reported causes of inheritance disputes in Orange County, CA, include:
- Lack of estate planning documents. If the deceased did not have a will, trust, or any other estate plan in place, their estate must be administrated through probate following the state’s law of intestate succession. This can quickly generate heated disputes when beneficiaries disagree with certain family members’ rights to claim property and assets from the deceased’s estate.
- Will enforce ability. It’s always best to have an experienced estate planning attorney help create a will. Using an internet-based service or software program to create a will may result in an unenforceable will that raises disputes among beneficiaries.
- Perceived inequality. Inheritance disputes can easily arise when beneficiaries feel as though they have been mistreated. Ultimately, the estate owner has the final say regarding who receives what from their estate, but some beneficiaries may raise compelling arguments against the designations included in the estate in question.
- Misaligned beneficiary designations. An estate creator must ensure the beneficiary designations they include in their estate plan align with preexisting designations on individual accounts or change those designations to align with their estate plan. For example, suppose you were previously married, and your ex-spouse is listed as a life insurance beneficiary. In that case, it’s best to change this designation as soon as possible to reflect your current family dynamic and prevent a future inheritance dispute more accurately.
- Executor misbehavior. An executor must discharge their fiduciary duty in good faith. If a beneficiary believes an executor has embezzled from their loved one’s estate or otherwise failed to fulfill their obligations, this can lead to a heated inheritance dispute.
- Fraud, forgery, and coercion. An inheritance dispute can arise if a family member believes that any party unduly influenced the deceased during the creation of their estate planning documents, forged the deceased’s signature on official estate planning documents, or otherwise engaged in fraud or deception for personal gain. If these accusations are substantiated, the at-fault party will face severe criminal penalties and will likely be disinherited from the estate.
These are only a few possible examples of situations that can easily lead to significant inheritance disputes. Some of these cases can be resolved quickly with negotiations or mediation, while others will generate protracted legal battles that may take months or even years to resolve. Hiring an experienced Orange County inheritance disputes attorney is the best way to minimize the time and expense required to address an inheritance dispute of any kind.
How to Help Your Family Avoid Estate Litigation Inheritance Disputes
The best way to prevent inheritance disputes from arising in the first place is comprehensive estate planning. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney is the best way to thoroughly develop your estate plan and minimize the chance of disputes arising among your beneficiaries. However, even the most forward-thinking individuals can overlook critical details that lead to disputes, and family dynamics can change dramatically in the time between an estate plan’s creation and the creator’s death.
It’s possible for a seemingly minor inheritance dispute to lead to protracted legal proceedings and a stressful, expensive legal battle for everyone involved. Quick resolution is in all parties’ best interests, and your Orange County inheritance disputes attorney will help you determine the most efficient approach to this challenging situation. Mediation is typically preferable to litigation for most inheritance disputes. The parties involved in any contest related to the administration of their family member’s estate can meet in private mediation to settle the matter with mutually beneficial terms. Your attorney can guide you through this process and help ensure a fair and reasonable outcome to your inheritance dispute.
It’s also possible for the estate creator to choose an independent fiduciary to act as their estate executor to minimize the possibility of inheritance disputes arising regarding the executor. For example, suppose the estate owner chooses their spouse or another beneficiary to act as executor. In that case, other beneficiaries may doubt the executor’s honesty or ability to impartially adhere to the estate owner’s wishes.
What to Expect From Your Orange County, CA Inheritance Disputes Attorney
Despite the best efforts of the estate creator, an inheritance dispute may arise during the administration of their estate, leading to costly legal proceedings for everyone involved. Your Orange County inheritance disputes attorney can help you through this situation by providing valuable legal counsel through every phase of your proceedings.
First, your attorney will help you evaluate the grounds for the inheritance dispute in question. It’s necessary to determine whether the individual raising the dispute has valid grounds for raising it in the first place and to carefully review the evidence they present with their dispute. Sometimes, inheritance disputes can reveal larger issues with an estate, and this preliminary investigation is critical to uncovering these problems. Next, your Orange County inheritance disputes attorney will help you determine the potential remedies to the situation. They may coordinate mediation or help their client prepare for challenging probate proceedings.
Talk to Estate Litigation Attorneys at Our Orange County Office
Ultimately, every family has unique dynamics, and every estate administration will involve different issues. It is impossible to predict all the ways for inheritance disputes to unfold but having reliable legal counsel on your side makes it much easier to approach these situations with confidence. The Flanigan Law Group has decades of experience helping clients navigate complex estate litigation, and we can apply our experience to your case. If you are involved in an inheritance dispute, we can help. Contact the Flanigan Law Group today to schedule your consultation with our team.