An Estate Litigation Attorney Can Help Protect a Potential Heir from Unpleasant Surprises
It is a good idea to involve an estate litigation attorney to protect your interests if you are expecting an inheritance. Estate distribution following the death of a loved one can be complicated, even under normal circumstances. If a blended family resulting from a second marriage of the deceased is involved, or if an unrelated third party such as a caregiver receives an inheritance, a dispute may arise. If you are the spouse or child of someone who just passed away are is elderly, click here Contact Kilgore & Kilgore for a free consultation on how best to protect your interests in your inheritance.
Blended Families Create Inheritance Complexities
When a parent divorces and remarries, the result is a blended family, whether or not the children of the first and second marriages interact with each other. When this parent passes away, it creates a situation with a potential for someone’s legal interest in an estate distribution to be compromised or abused.
Texas law does not always treat a blended family situation the same as a nuclear family for the purpose of estate distribution. An estate litigation attorney has knowledge of the law and how it should be applied. S/he knows of the numerous ways in which a family member could unfairly lose all or part of an inheritance and protect an heir’s interests with great sensitivity in the situation following a death.
Retain an Estate Litigation Attorney if an Inheritance is Anticipated
It is important that you retain an estate litigation attorney as near as possible to the outset of the estate administration process. A delay may seriously compromise one’s protection of interest.
When a spouse in a second marriage, who has children from a previous marriage, passes away without a will, a most critical legal situation arises for the child. Let’s look at how this can lead to a disputed estate distribution. In a normal nuclear family situation, if a married spouse passes away without a will, the surviving spouse will inherit the deceased’s entire estate. Under Texas law, if a person in a second marriage, with children from a previous marriage, passes away without a will, the surviving spouse from the second marriage gets half of the community property in the estate. The children from the first marriage divide the other half in equal shares. Only one-third of the deceased spouse’s separate personal property passes to the surviving spouse, with two-thirds going to any children from outside the current marriage.
Know Texas Law to Avoid Inheritance Surprises
When a person with a spouse and four children with that spouse dies, and there are two children from a previous marriage, the children from the previous marriage will receive half of the community property in the estate. The surviving spouse will receive half of the community property in the estate. The four children from the current marriage will get nothing.
In this example, you can see the tension in this situation. Unfortunately, that tension often creates disputes as to how and whether the estate was properly validated, assessed, partitioned, liquidated, and distributed. Those disputes can be settled or litigated.
Texas Law Follows the Deceased’s Will
If the deceased had a valid will, Texas law requires that the will be followed. Even if the deceased left a will, due to the inherent conflicts of interest in a blended family situation, there is the potential that the will can be deemed invalid because it was created with undue influence by one of the beneficiaries. There are many situations that could invalidate the will. Also, the terms of a will are not always clear. The probate court’s interpretation of ambiguous terms could have significant financial consequences. It is often not clear how an estate should be properly assessed, classified as community or separate property, partitioned, and liquidated. To protect your interests, it is vital that you have an estate litigation attorney monitor the estate administration process and step in to advocate on your behalf when necessary.
Estate Litigation Attorneys Setting Inheritance Disputes
And, of course, there is a situation where an actual dispute over the distribution of an estate occurs. When this happens, or there is any hint that it might happen, it is critical that you have an estate litigation attorney representing your interests from the very outset. A good estate litigation attorney can also help diffuse combustible situations. Often, the estate litigation attorney’s mere presence can dissuade anyone involved from trying to take unfair advantage.
Beware of Caregiver Predators
An especially trying situation both legally and emotionally arises when a caregiver or other third party influences an elder family member to leave all or a substantial part of an estate to the caregiver or third party. The caregiver or third party may have access to estate funds during the elder’s lifetime to use in an attempt to build a legal wall around the estate assets. It may be necessary to retain an estate litigation attorney in an effort to obtain legal redress. Kilgore & Kilgore has successfully handled situations like this, which can require expert testimony from economists, psychiatrists and doctors, litigation in multiple forums, and an extended time to obtain relief.
To learn more about how to protect your inheritance rights to an estate, click here for a free consultation with one of our experienced estate litigation attorneys Contact Kilgore & Kilgore.