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214-691-3411
Free Consultation 214-691-3411

Forney Estate Litigation Lawyers

If you face a dispute with an heir, executor, or another party involved in your family member’s estate administration, contact Staubus and Randall immediately. We might be able to represent you in your case and resolve the issues you encountered.

Losing someone you love puts you on an emotional roller coaster. Unfortunately, you could also face legal challenges while handling their estate. Although you want to grieve your loss, you may be responsible for managing financial matters and other circumstances while settling your family member’s estate, or you could have discovered some errors in the way the estate has been handled. It can be stressful to deal with, especially if a dispute arises within the family.

A person’s death can create problems between members of the family. The distribution of assets is often a contentious situation. A relative might believe they’re entitled to specific property instead of someone else, or an heir could pursue legal action if they’re not in the will. There can also be disagreements over how the executor of the estate handled their responsibilities.

You can count on Staubus and Randall to provide the representation you need during this stressful time in your life. With over 100 years of combined experience, our Forney estate litigation lawyers know how to resolve matters regarding estate administration.

Call us for a free consultation at 214-691-3411, or reach out to us online today.

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Why Choose Staubus and Randall?

Moving forward with litigation without assistance from an experienced attorney could negatively impact your case. Estate litigation is complicated to navigate if you don’t understand state laws and procedures. You could end up without the property you’re entitled to if you make an error while administering your relative’s estate.

Many people face a range of obstacles after a loved one’s death. If the executor or administrator mismanages the estate, you could pursue legal action. Staubus and Randall will protect your rights and remain in your corner throughout court proceedings. You can depend on us to be your advocate and protect your rights.

At Staubus and Randall, our estate litigation lawyers in Forney, TX, know how to represent clients in their estate-related matters successfully. Anyone with contested interests in a deceased person’s estate could face a contentious courtroom battle. You need a knowledgeable attorney to guide you through will contests, property distribution, breach of fiduciary duty, or another issue involved in your case.

Cases Staubus and Randall Handles

Staubus and Randall could represent you in any case associated with estate litigation. The most common are below.

Claims by Creditors

Creditors could pursue a collections action against your loved one’s estate if they owed money when they died. The creditor could decide to file a claim to recover a portion of the estate to pay off the owed debt. This can significantly delay the probate process, preventing the surviving family from receiving assets left to them.

Staubus and Randall has experience representing beneficiaries, executors, and administrators in creditor claims. We can protect your rights and interests while determining how to pay off the collections agency.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

An administrator, trustee, or executor of a deceased person’s estate is responsible for administering the estate while fulfilling their fiduciary duties. This person must base decisions on the deceased’s wishes and transfer specific assets to the named beneficiaries according to the will or trust documents.

When the trustee, executor, or administrator places their interests over the interests of others during the administration of an estate, they are in breach of their fiduciary duty. Common examples include:

  • Combining personal funds and estate funds
  • Distributing assets to themselves instead of an heir or beneficiary
  • Ignoring deadlines regarding time-sensitive matters during estate administration.

Will Contests

Grieving is necessary after a loss. However, if your loved one has an estate, you must focus your time and attention on going through probate to determine whether the will is valid. If you believe a mistake occurred during the execution of the will or your relative left property to the wrong person, you could challenge the validity in court.

You could contest a will’s validity if you’re an interested person, such as an heir, devisee, or a person with property rights in an estate. One of the grounds below must exist for you to be eligible to pursue this type of claim:

  • Revocation
  • Undue influence
  • Fraud
  • Mistake
  • Improper execution
  • Lack of testamentary capacity

Heir and Beneficiary Disputes

Death is often shocking and unexpected. Even if you knew your loved one was ill, their death could still take you by surprise. It’s challenging to prepare for the inevitable no matter what you do. If you’ve been omitted from the will and believe you should have been one of the beneficiaries, Staubus and Randall could file a kinship dispute on your behalf and gather the necessary evidence. You must prove you had a relationship with the deceased to receive the assets you believe you’re entitled to.

Other Disputes

Our Forney estate litigation lawyers also know how to handle matters involving:

  • Formal accounting
  • Conservatorship disputes
  • Executor fee claims
  • Estate accounting
  • Guardianship disputes
  • Will distribution claims
  • Executor misconduct
  • Personal representative appointment

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Frequently Asked Questions

You must follow specific procedures and deadlines while pursuing an estate case. Staubus and Randall wants you to understand your legal rights and the obstacles you could encounter. We’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions below, so you’ll have an idea about how to navigate an estate litigation matter.

Do I have to go through mediation?

The judge might order you to resolve your dispute through mediation before you file a lawsuit. However, mediation is also optional in other scenarios. Settling your legal matter outside of court might be beneficial.

During mediation, a mediator facilitates arrangements between opposing parties. They can communicate relevant information, suggest solutions to the issue, and oversee the execution of an agreement.

Is there a deadline to contest a will?

Yes. You must file your lawsuit within two years of the date the will enters probate. However, it’s often better to challenge the validity of a will before the probate process begins. Since probate involves a judge validating a will, you could benefit from pursuing legal action before that happens. Our team has the experience you need.

Can I get money from the estate for litigating an estate matter?

If you’re the personal representative of the deceased’s estate, you could recoup the cost of hiring an attorney. According to Texas Estate Code 352.051, you could receive compensation for the necessary and reasonable expenses associated with:

  • Managing, preserving, and safekeeping the estate
  • Attempting to collect or collecting claims or debts
  • Recovering or trying to recover property with a title or claim by the estate

Contact Us

Whether there’s a dispute involving your loved one’s estate or another issue, you should contact Staubus and Randall immediately to discuss your legal options. Call us at 214-691-3411, or contact us online now for a free consultation with one of our estate litigation lawyers in Forney, TX.

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In the pursuit of our clients' cases, we utilize recognized experts, including forensic psychiatrists, forensic accountants, hand-writings experts, and investigators.

Frequent Asked Questions

Estate planning is the arrangement of transferring a person’s assets and property after their death. The estate plan you create may consist of cars, homes, life insurance, assets, real estate, jewelry, and other types of personal property. When you create an estate plan, you must sign it in front of a notary public.

Even if you don’t have many assets, it’s still a good idea to create an estate plan, so that loved ones won’t argue over who gets what when you pass away. Your estate plan will ensure everything you own goes to specified parties and doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.

Typically, those with extensive or complex assets will hire an estate planning lawyer to help draft their will. Many use a will to divide personal property, such as a home, among their family members. When you’re preparing your will, you need to make sure you meet specific legal requirements. Having a witness present when you’re signing the documents is crucial.

Of course, it’s possible to draft a will on your own, especially if you don’t have significant assets to leave behind. However, hiring an estate planning lawyer can ensure that your documents comply with current law, and that everything gets divided among your family the way you want, so there’s no confusion.

A power of attorney is a legal document giving power to one person (an agent or attorney-in-fact) to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated. When you create a power of attorney, you can designate a specific person and decide how much authority they will have.

An attorney-in-fact would maintain records of all decisions made on your behalf. Some decisions could include recommending a guardian for dependents or minor children and financial decisions. They could also make decisions about healthcare.

If you allow your power of attorney the authority to stop, give, or withhold medical treatment, you can leave instructions on which services you want and don’t want, when to stop life-saving measures, and when to cease specific treatments.

It’s devastating to lose a loved one, and the last thing anyone wants to do is handle their affairs. However, you must ensure property and assets go to the right people, and everyone follows their final wishes.

The first thing you should do when your loved one passes away is to request a copy of a legal pronouncement of death. You should also notify close friends and family of their death. If necessary, arrange for the supervision of dependents or minor children. You’ll also be able to find instructions on how to move forward with their plans from their will or trust.

A trust is a document that places your assets into a trust fund to transfer to a beneficiary upon your death. Most people will create a trust to speed up the process of settling their estate. You can also protect your assets, reduce taxes, and prevent probate.

With a trust, you’re not only able to control who your assets go to but also how the money gets disbursed. This is especially beneficial if the person you’re leaving money to doesn’t know how to save and spend properly. You can create a payment schedule with a specified amount paid to them on a weekly or monthly basis, rather than as a lump sum.

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What Our Clients Say

"I recently had the occasion to hire Mr. Staubus for a hotly contested Guardianship matter. Mr. Staubus brought a rare combination of effectiveness, reasonableness and understanding of the human element involved. Mr. Staubus handled all things in a calm, highly competent, effective and reasonable way. It could not have been as easy as he made it seem. He's a credit to the Bar."

Jody

"Before retaining the guidance of the Staubus & Randall firm, I was at my wit's end trying to close an uncle's estate as a co-executor. In addition to dealing with difficult heirs, I had other pressing business issues coming up immediately on estate land in the middle of the Eagleford Shale including dealings with pipeline, seismic, oil & gas, and construction companies. The local bank also refused to give me access to information relating to the estate. This quickly became the most stressful and desperate time in my life...and then I found Joseph Legere who truly became my guardian angel. He was able to get all issues resolved efficiently and the estate fully closed. His professionalism, immense legal knowledge on a wide variety of topics, and amazing communication skills took the burdens off of me and quickly got closure. I am forever indebted to this firm for giving me my life back."

Martha

"Without exception, the legal service, professional attitude, prompt communication of your firm and your legal knowledge is second to none. I only wish I had an attorney here in Boston that could hold a candle to your experience and expertise. Working with you has been a pleasure, but even more, has made me believe that there are knowledgeable attorneys that do care about doing a good job. Thank you Keith! You may not truly understand how much of an impact you are having on peoples lives, but for me, you have helped change my life. As I begin making my dreams come true I can't help but remember none of this would be possible without you."

Joann

"Keith Staubus and Julie Blankenship and their team represented me in a jury trial in the probate court where the ownership of the business which I had worked hard to build was at stake. They successfully fought to preserve my business and my professional reputation, working masterfully to gain the support of the jury. I would not hesitate to hire them again in any bet-the-company litigation.”

Karen

"I have required legal representation twice in my life in two separate will contests. Both times I sought assistance from Keith Staubus and Staubus/Randall. Their service, approach, and determination to obtain results exceeded the other attorneys in each case. Mr. Staubus has always come across as genuine while being direct. He gets the process done in a timely manner with results. I will certainly use him again when and if any new challenges arise.”

David

"After my husband's death, I was devastated by having to defend against a vicious dispute over my husband's estate. Julie Blankenship and Keith Staubus made me feel very comfortable in this distressing situation. They were very tough and did an excellent job for me in obtaining a summary judgment in my favor without a full jury trial. I was glad to have them and Diane Walker in my corner to help me achieve an excellent result - I won! If I ever had to go back to probate court, I would hire them again.” - (will and trust construction case)

Flo

"If you need intervention for someone you love but don't know where to turn or who to turn to, Julie Blankenship and Keith Staubus helped me through the most difficult and stressful time in my life with a much loved family member. I now believe that good will triumph over evil. They fought for what was right, and good prevailed." (contested guardianship and will contest)

Janet

"As a professional money manager, I have used Ryan Randall's estate planning services both personally and for my clients. Ryan has exhibited three critical attributes in his work with me: (1) high intellectual capacity, (2) exceptional thoroughness, and (3) a total commitment to integrity. In today's litigious world, it can be quite costly not to "get things done right.” An added bonus to us was that we found one of the nicest people we could imagine.”

John

"I was represented by Keith Staubus as an income beneficiary in a lawsuit with the trustee of a family trust. Utilizing the expertise of a forensic accountant and his own trust expertise, Keith was able to negotiate a judicial modification of the trust providing for the buyout of my income interest for a substantial lump sum payment out of the trust, resulting in a win-win situation for all of the parties. I highly recommend Staubus/Randall for any trust disputes and trust modification actions."

Kathy

"I have been a wealth management specialist and retirement plan consultant with the Dallas/Fort Worth financial community for over 20 years. I have engaged Ryan Randall to work with a number of my best clients over the years, including business owners, professionals and families. My clients always appreciate Ryan’s straightforward approach to estate planning, asset protection planning and business succession planning. He makes even the most sophisticated estate planning strategies understandable."

Larry

What planning we can sue for?

When a loved one dies, and the execution of their estate plan begins, many disputes can arise among family members. Despite the decedent's creation of a good estate plan, problems can occur if a power of attorney doesn’t perform their duties or someone’s unhappy with the division and distribution of assets.

The most common disputes estate lawyers see include:

Bad fiduciary selection

A majority of disputes arise when the power of attorney, executor, or trustee doesn’t correctly perform their duties when their loved one dies. That failure is called a breach of fiduciary duty. Common breaches include:

  • Failure to file tax returns
  • Using assets for personal benefit
  • Failure to provide tax and accounting information to beneficiaries
  • Dividing and distributing assets improperly

To avoid these issues, you should ensure your loved one chooses the right fiduciary during the process of planning their estate. Careful selection can ensure there’s no breach of duty, and they act in the deceased’s best interest.

Will or Trust Contest

When someone contests a trust or will, it’s either because they don’t think it’s legally valid or believe someone influenced the creator into making decisions they didn’t want to make.

To be legal, the creator of the will must sign under specific circumstances and in a particular manner. In Texas, the person must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years of age;
  • Be of sound mind, meaning they’re able to make decisions and understand the consequences of a will;
  • Sign the will themselves;
  • Signature of at least two witnesses; and
  • List at least one beneficiary.

Improper execution of a will is less common than undue influence. Many will argue that the creator of the trust or will made their decisions because of another party. The person accused of undue influence could be a friend, caregiver, professional advisor, or family member.

Distribution of property

Sometimes conflicts will arise when the creator of a will or trust intends to leave someone their property but dies before they can change their estate plan to reflect that decision. Other instances create conflicts when beneficiaries believe the distribution of property is unfair or inequitable.

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How should I handle estate law disputes?

If you come across the disputes listed above or any other types of disputes, there are options for resolving them. The remedy you choose will depend on the particular conflict and the people involved.

  • Remove the executor: If there’s a problem with the executor of the estate, you might need to replace or remove them. Finding a replacement can be difficult, especially finding one that all parties are happy with. However, it’s the best decision to ensure everyone is satisfied with how the estate gets handled. The best choice would be a neutral third party who doesn’t hold any biases.
  • Litigation: To litigate a dispute, you must be an inheritor and have sufficient grounds for pursuing a lawsuit. Most people will litigate if they believe there was an improper distribution of the property or suffered a financial loss because someone mismanaged the estate.
  • Mediation: This is the best option for individuals who want to settle the issues amicably, timely, and inexpensively. Mediations usually bring about quick results and cost less than litigation. You also have complete control over the outcome because there isn’t a judge or jury involved.

The Firm

The attorneys at Staubus and Randall have over 100 years of combined experience in estate planning, probate, and litigation. We have the knowledge and skills to tackle complex legal issues, such as guardianships, will contests, fiduciary litigation, and trust litigation. We can also handle routine matters, such as estate administration, probating wills, heirship determinations, and other probate court matters.

Staubus and Randall received a preeminent AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating possible from a peer-rated legal service. This rating recognizes our hard work, dedication, and the case results we’re able to achieve.

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