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McKinney Estate Litigation Lawyers

If you’re not satisfied with how someone handled your loved one’s estate or are facing a family dispute, contact Staubus and Randall immediately. We might be able to represent you and resolve the issue with the administrator, executor, or relative.

You face a range of challenges when you lose someone you love. You not only have to grieve their death but also deal with the responsibility of their financial and legal matters. Between making arrangements for their funeral and managing the distribution of their estate, you don’t want to find yourself in the middle of a contentious battle with family.

Unfortunately, many people experience challenges while distributing a loved one’s estate following their death. You might have been left out of the will, or another relative believes they should receive an asset that wasn’t left to them. Additionally, issues with the executor or administrator of the estate could arise if they didn’t meet their obligations.

Whether the matter is big or small, you should have an experienced legal team by your side to provide the legal representation necessary to handle the litigation process. Our McKinney estate litigation lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience representing clients in cases involving complex estate matters.

Call Staubus and Randall at 214-691-3411 today for your free consultation and learn more about your legal options when facing an issue with your loved one’s estate.

Why Hire Staubus and Randall?

Handling estate issues can be a complicated and confusing process. If you don’t know your rights or the state laws that apply while administering your loved one’s estate, you could walk away without the assets you rightfully deserve. Going through estate litigation without a legal team in your corner to walk you through each step can present challenges you don’t know how to handle.

You will likely face an uphill battle while pursuing a case against the person responsible for mismanaging your deceased relative’s estate. You need an experienced estate litigation lawyer in McKinney, TX, from Staubus and Randall to be your advocate and complete every step of the process on your behalf.

At Staubus and Randall, we know administering a loved one’s estate can turn ugly if any surviving family members have an issue. Disputes regarding a breach of fiduciary duty, the distribution of property, or another problem can lead to a legal battle that divides the family. You should contact us if you need to take your case to court, so we can advise you about the available options.

Common Disputes Staubus and Randall Can Handle

The McKinney estate litigation lawyers of Staubus and Randall can represent clients in various types of estate litigation cases, such as:

Contesting the Validity of a Will

You can challenge a will if you believe it’s invalid. You must base your case on one of these grounds:

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

Claim Pursued by a Creditor

If your loved one owed debts when they died, creditors could come after the estate for payment. Unfortunately, if a credit pursues a claim, it could delay the process of distributing assets to beneficiaries and heirs. You should enlist the help of an estate litigation lawyer in McKinney from Staubus and Randall to fight against the claims made by the creditor if you’re a named beneficiary, administrator, or executor.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

The administrator, executor, or trustee of an estate must uphold their fiduciary duty while handling a deceased person’s estate. They should base their decisions on the deceased’s final wishes as set forth in the legal documents and distribute assets to all named beneficiaries.

Breach of fiduciary duty happens when an individual involved in administering the estate acts in their personal interests instead of acting in the interests of the deceased and their beneficiaries. The most common types of breach of fiduciary duty are:

  • Ignoring deadlines while handling time-sensitive issues regarding estate administration
  • Commingling personal funds and estate funds
  • Receiving an asset instead of distributing it to the heir or beneficiary

Heir and Beneficiary Disputes

You can face a range of emotions when someone you love dies. Their death might have been shocking and unexpected. Although you’re grieving, you need to take steps to receive the assets that are rightfully yours. However, you could discover your loved one didn’t leave anything behind for you.

If you believe you deserve a specific asset from their estate, you could pursue a case in court. You must show proof of your relationship with the deceased. Unfortunately, that can be a challenging task. Staubus and Randall could represent you in a kinship dispute and gather the available evidence to prove you have rights to a particular asset.

Our McKinney estate litigation lawyers can also handle estate litigation cases involving:

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

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding McKinney Estate Litigation

Estate litigation is a complex legal matter. You probably have questions about the steps you need to take to resolve a dispute within the family. Staubus and Randall has answered the most common questions clients ask us below. You should review them to better understand how the process works, so you feel prepared. You can also call us at 214-691-3411 for a free consultation.

Is there a deadline to challenge the validity of a will?

If you believe your loved one’s will is invalid, you could contest it. If probate has already started, you must file your lawsuit within two years from the date the will entered probate. However, you could file before the probate process begins. Since probate involves a judge validating a will, pursuing legal action before then could help your case.

Can I recover compensation for attorney’s fees?

According to Texas Estate Code 352.051, the administrator or executor of an estate can receive compensation for reasonable and necessary expenses incurred during probate litigation.

Can I settle the dispute in mediation?

If you want to avoid taking your case to court, you could try to resolve the issue during mediation. Some judges even require it before you can pursue a lawsuit. Your estate litigation lawyer in McKinney, TX, from Staubus and Randall can assist you with mediation proceedings to try to reach your desired outcome.

Contact Staubus and Randall

If you encountered issues with your loved one’s estate, do not hesitate to contact one of the dedicated and trusted McKinney estate litigation lawyers from Staubus and Randall. Whether you’re a beneficiary, heir, administrator, executor, or family member, you can depend on us to fight for you.

Call 214-691-3411 right now for your free consultation.

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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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