Efficient Management of Legal Disputes Over Wills and Trusts
One of the benefits of working with Hale Ball is we have both experienced estate planners and many of our attorneys have the litigation skills and experience to protect our estate and trust clients in the event that litigation arises over the terms of a will or over actions by the executor or trustees.
Estate planning is document-intensive. For that reason, many excellent estate planning lawyers rarely enter a courtroom. At the northern Virginia law firm of Hale Ball, we are fortunate to offer our clients the powerful combination of knowledgeable estate lawyers who also have formidable trial skills. The estate and estate litigation attorneys of Hale Ball have accumulated a long list of accolades including the firm’s AV Rating* and the inclusion of one of two of our estate planning litigators, Kimberley A. Murphy and Jean Galloway Ball, as Super Lawyers in Virginia since 2007.
Should you sue the estate or executor, or defend an action that has been filed against you.
A legal fight among family members concerning a will or trust is painful. The family members have to decide if they want to litigate and understand the economic and non-economic costs of estate litigation. Whether you want to prosecute a claim or have to defend a claim, the first step is to understand your rights. The estate litigation division of Hale Ball prides itself on its ability to educate you on your rights, seek non-litigation remedies, and litigate aggressively if necessary.
Estate litigation is a broad phrase that encompasses:
- Probate litigation and disputes
- Will contests and disputes
- Trust litigation, contests, and disputes
- Trustee litigation, including seeking advice and consent from the court on the appropriate way to handle difficult situations
- Guardianship disputes and
- Conservatorship disputes
- Fiduciary misconduct allegations involving executors and trustees.
- Undue Influence
- Financial Exploitation
The first step in any dispute is to understand all of the facts. Attorneys Kimberley A. Murphy and Jean Galloway Ball and their legal team want to sit with you to explore all of the facts of your case so they can advise you on your best course of action. Once our attorneys have a solid understanding of the facts, they can present alternatives to you. In the end, you have to make the decision as to what course, if any to pursue. The Attorneys of Hale Ball want to understand your case and help you make the best-informed decision as to how to proceed.
Reasons for a Dispute
Challenge to a will: A will can be challenged on the grounds that the person who made the will did not understand what they were signing (lacked testamentary capacity) or was unduly influenced to make the will and that it does not reflect their true wishes. A will also can be challenged on the grounds that the signature is a forgery.
Elective Share Claims: A surviving spouse has a right to inherit from their deceased spouse. There are statutory allowances as well as a right to a portion of the estate (the “elective share”). If a deceased spouse does not provide for their surviving spouse or does not provide all to which the surviving spouse is entitled, the survivor can challenge the estate plan.
Creditor claims: Creditors who believe the decedent owed them money may make a claim against the estate. The creditor must adequately prove their right to payment.
Breach of Fiduciary Duty: When an executor or administrator of an estate, or a trustee of a trust, fails to accurately perform their job or misuse their authority or misappropriates assets, a beneficiary of the estate can take them to court.
An experienced fiduciary litigator can help you determine whether or not you have a valid case and guide you through the process of preparing, presenting and, if necessary, litigating your claim. No matter what type of estate litigation case you have, it is important to discuss your legal claims with an experienced Virginia estate litigation attorney. We can help you create an effective plan of action for your case and guide you in the right direction.
Estate Litigation Doesn’t Always Require a Courtroom
Like all trial work, estate litigation requires the careful balancing of our client’s needs with our client’s financial resources. Our goal is to achieve the best possible result without draining excessive resources from the estate in question or from our client’s own bank accounts.
Often, estate litigation may be settled before the dispute ever reaches the courtroom. A settlement is almost always the best solution. However, a settlement is often not attainable without involving the litigation process. Our trial lawyers are familiar with the courtrooms of Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland and have handled estate litigation cases through trial, appeal, re-trial, and a second appeal – in other words, we stick with our client as long as they wish to fight.
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The primary areas of estate and trust litigation in which we work are questions involving will and trust contests, including heirship disputes and allegations of undue influence, and allegations of fiduciary misconduct leveled against executors or trustees.
Since 1980 the AV-rated law firm of Hale Ball has served the legal needs of individuals and businesses. Our team of attorneys include lawyers named to Super Lawyer and Rising Star lists, as well as attorneys with advanced legal degrees, specialty certifications and lawyers who teach their areas of practice to other lawyers.
Use the contact form on this page to schedule a consultation, or call 703-591-4900.
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10511 Judicial Dr
Fairfax, VA 22030