After grieving the death of a loved one, the decedent’s heirs of the estate must go through the process of administering the will and distributing the decedent’s assets. In order to accomplish this process, an executor of the estate is typically appointed by the will or the heirs of the estate. Hopefully, the distribution of the estate goes smoothly, but at times, issues arise if the executor is either dishonest or fails to perform the duties required of an executor. The question then becomes, “What can be done in order to force the proper administration and distribution of the estate?”

Continue Reading Dealing with a Dishonest or Lazy Executor

An action setting forth a claim of undue influence is among the most common methods of contesting a will; however, an action for undue influence can also be effective in challenging lifetime gifts. As a general matter, undue influence is defined as mental, moral, or physical exertion which has destroyed the free agency of a party by preventing that party from following the dictates of his own mind and will and accepting instead the domination and influence of another. A plaintiff claiming undue influence has the burden of demonstrating a confidential relationship between the donor and the donee.

Continue Reading Undue Influence as a Challenge to Lifetime Gifts

While most people who are appointed Powers of Attorney understand their general duty to act only within the best interests of the person for whom they are serving as a Power of Attorney, and to not undertake transactions which solely benefit themselves, most of them do not understand their duty to account which is required by statute. It is important that a Power of Attorney carefully account when utilizing a Power of Attorney to undertake financial transactions, as this issue could come back to bite them if they do not properly account.

Continue Reading The Duty to Account of a Power of Attorney

During a Will contest, a question may rise as to who is an interested party with regard to an estate. This question is not quite as simple as it may appear at first sight. In fact, the interested parties may be substantially greater than the party initiating the Will contest might have anticipated. As discussed below, interested parties are not merely those who are listed under the Last Will and Testament.

Continue Reading Interested Parties in Probate Litigation