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Plano Estate Litigation Lawyers

Are you dissatisfied with the way someone handled your late relative’s estate? Is there a dispute with a family member, executor, or administrator you can’t seem to resolve yourselves? If so, contact Staubus and Randall right now. We might be able to represent you in your case and try to reach your desired outcome.

Losing someone you love doesn’t cause only emotional pain but also legal and financial responsibilities. You’re suddenly faced with making funeral arrangements and administering their estate according to their final wishes. You could experience difficulties receiving the assets left to you if someone else believes they deserve them instead. Or you might think the executor of the estate didn’t distribute your loved one’s property correctly and that you need to take them to court.

No matter what issue arises, you need an experienced and dedicated legal team on your side to guide you through the litigation process. With over 100 years of combined legal experience, the Plano estate litigation lawyers of Staubus and Randall can handle even the most complex estate administration matters. We have the resources and knowledge to create the right strategy to challenge the validity of a will, protect your rights to certain assets, or represent you in another estate issue.

Learn more about our estate litigation services and what we can do for you by calling us at 214-691-3411 today for a confidential consultation.

Why You Need to Hire an Estate Litigation Lawyer

Handling estate-related matters can be complicated. If you’re not familiar with state laws and your rights during the administration of your relative’s estate, you could end up without the assets you deserve. Going through each step without an experienced lawyer by your side will likely lead to various obstacles you don’t know how to overcome.

Determining how to pursue a case against another person for mismanaging an estate can be an uphill battle. Whether you want to contest a will or prove kinship to the deceased, you should have an estate litigation lawyer in Plano, Texas, to guide you through every step of the legal proceedings.

Staubus and Randall understands how contentious estate administration can become between surviving family members upon the death of a loved one. Disputes regarding the distribution of assets, breach of fiduciary duty, or another legal issue can divide a family and spark a legal battle. If you have to take your case to court, you should reach out to us to determine what your legal options might be.

Estate Litigation Matters Staubus and Randall Handles

At Staubus and Randall, our Plano estate litigation lawyers take on a range of estate administration cases, including:

Claim by a Creditor

A creditor could come after the estate if your loved one had debts they hadn’t paid off yet at the time of their death. A claim could delay the process of receiving the assets left to you in the will and distributed to additional beneficiaries. Staubus and Randall could help you dispute the creditor’s claim if you’re the executor or administrator of the estate or one of the named beneficiaries.

Beneficiary or Heir Dispute

It can be a shock when someone you were close to dies, and you discover they didn’t leave any of their assets to you. You might feel as though you are entitled to something from their estate.

You could pursue a case to receive the property that is rightfully yours. However, you will have to prove how you’re related to the deceased, a task that can be a challenge. Your estate litigation lawyer in Plano, TX, can assist you with your kinship dispute and obtain the available evidence to show you have rights to the deceased’s assets.

Contesting an Invalid Will

You can contest a will if you have doubts about its validity. The range of grounds you can choose from when filing your case include:

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

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

Any executor, trustee, or administrator of an estate has a fiduciary duty to administer the deceased’s estate according to their final wishes and ensure the named beneficiaries receive the assets passed down to them. A breach of fiduciary duty occurs when the person responsible for estate administration acts in their own best interests over the interests of the deceased and the estate’s beneficiaries.

Common examples of a breach of fiduciary duty include:

  • Commingling estate funds with personal funds
  • Distributing a particular asset to themselves instead of the intended heir
  • Ignoring strict deadlines for time-sensitive matters regarding management of the estate

Additional estate litigation matters Staubus and Randall can take on include:

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

Estate Litigation Frequently Asked Questions

It’s natural to have questions about the estate litigation process. It’s often a complex and time-consuming legal matter to handle. Most people don’t know the steps they need to take to resolve a dispute within the family or contest a will included in a loved one’s estate plan.

When you hire Staubus and Randall, you will have an estate litigation lawyer in Plano, Texas, to assist you with every legal aspect of your case. You will be in excellent hands and have an advocate fighting by your side until the end.

Below are answers to some of the most common questions clients ask us. This may help you prepare for your case or for your consultation with us.

Will I have to bring my case to court?

Not necessarily. You could avoid a trial if you and the other party can resolve the dispute through mediation. Many judges require family members to mediate their issues before proceeding with a court case.

Both sides meet with their attorneys and a mediator to resolve the matter at hand during mediation. Whether you have conflicts over the validity of the will, the distribution of property, or another disagreement with the estate, a third party could help.

Do I have to follow a deadline to contest a will?

Yes. You have two years from the date the will goes to probate to contest it. However, it might be best to pursue your case before the probate process begins.

Probate involves a judge reviewing and validating a will upon a person’s death. If a judge validates the will, it will be more difficult to dispute whether the contents are valid and enforceable.

Can any family member contest a will?

According to state law, only an interested person can contest a will. That means you must be one of these parties in relation to the deceased:

  • Creditor
  • Heir
  • Spouse
  • Devisee
  • Another person with a claim against or right to administration of the estate

Contact Staubus and Randall

You can face significant legal and financial obstacles as an administrator, heir, relative, beneficiary, or executor. The Plano estate litigation lawyers of Staubus and Randall have the knowledge, resources, and skills to find a solution to your estate matters that meets your needs.

Call 214-691-3411 or complete our contact form online for your confidential consultation if you have a problem with how another person handled your loved one’s estate.

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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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