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Richardson Estate Litigation Lawyers

If you want to pursue legal action for the mismanagement of your loved one’s estate after they passed away, do not hesitate to contact Staubus and Randall. Our legal team is ready to represent you in your case to resolve the issue you have with the administration or distribution of the estate plan your loved one created.

Unfortunately, settling someone’s estate upon their death doesn’t always go as smoothly as planned. Even if your relative created all the necessary documents, such as a will, a family member might wish to challenge the way the estate was handled or paid out. You might have to go to court to ensure proper distribution of the assets or resolve a dispute that arises.

At Staubus and Randall, our Richardson estate litigation lawyers have over 100 years of combined experience in estate matters. Whether you are the administrator, beneficiary, executor, heir, or relative of the deceased, it is your right to challenge the administration of the estate if you believe someone didn’t handle it correctly.

For a confidential consultation to learn more about what we can do to help you, call us at 214-691-3411 today.

Why Hire Staubus and Randall?

As a surviving family member, you face a complicated and overwhelming process after losing a loved one. You’re not only grieving someone’s death but also making funeral arrangements while settling matters regarding their estate. The responsibility can become a significant burden, especially if you’re handling it alone.

Unfortunately, arguments within the family are common and can occur when someone disagrees with who should receive which assets. If there’s any type of dispute and you can’t seem to reach a resolution amicably, you might have to proceed with a lawsuit.

Estate administration isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. Even if your loved one has a will indicating their final wishes and how they want their property handled, you still have to go through the probate process. Probate involves a judge validating a person’s will and authorizing the distribution of the assets to beneficiaries and heirs.

Staubus and Randall can represent you in your case if you want to contest the will or resolve another issue between you and your family. Whether you weren’t included in the will and believe you are entitled to certain assets or the executor of the estate didn’t distribute property according to your loved one’s wishes, you can depend on us to help.

Common Disputes During Estate Administration

You could face numerous issues while going through probate after the death of your family member. The most common estate administration disputes an estate litigation lawyer in Richardson, Texas, can handle are below.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

Trustees, administrators, and executors must uphold their fiduciary duty to any beneficiary and decedent while managing a person’s estate. That means they are responsible for administering the estate correctly and distributing the necessary assets to the appropriate individuals named in the will.

Unfortunately, someone the deceased thought they could trust can take advantage of their access to the property left behind and take assets that don’t belong to them for themselves. They might choose to gift estate funds to themselves or commingle assets from the estate with their personal assets.

No matter how the breach of fiduciary duty occurred, you have a right to pursue a case against the administrator, trustee, or executor who committed the breach.

Contest the Will

You could contest a will if you want to challenge its validity. There are various grounds you can use to contest a will, such as:

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

Disputes Involving Heirs and Beneficiaries

If you believe your relationship with the deceased gives you the right to receive estate assets, you could file a claim. You will need to provide evidence to prove you are entitled to the property as a beneficiary or heir. Staubus and Randall could help you build a strong case to pursue the assets that are rightfully yours.

Claims Against the Estate

A creditor could pursue a claim against the estate if the deceased died with significant debt. This can delay the process of distributing the assets to named beneficiaries.

As a beneficiary, administrator, or executor, you could dispute the creditor’s claim with help from an estate litigation lawyer in Richardson, TX.

Staubus and Randall also represents clients in estate litigation cases, such as:

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

Estate Litigation Frequently Asked Questions

Many people don’t understand how to handle estate administration following a loved one’s death. It can involve various complex matters and issues you need to resolve. You will likely lose your case if you’re unsure where to start or what legal procedure you must follow to pursue a case.

You should consult one of the Richardson estate litigation lawyers from Staubus and Randall to determine whether we can help. Below are the most common questions we receive so you know what to expect.

Do I have to go to trial to settle my estate administration case?

It depends. It’s possible to mediate a range of estate disputes outside of court. Some judges require beneficiaries and heirs to go through mediation to resolve their issues before pursuing a lawsuit.

However, even after attempting to settle the matter among yourselves, you can still face challenges reaching some sort of agreement. When that happens, you might have to proceed to trial for a judge or jury to issue a judgment.

Who has the legal right to contest a will?

Texas law allows an interested person to contest a will. An interested person can include:

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

Is there a deadline to contest a will?

Yes. Once the probate process starts, you have two years to contest a will. However, you don’t have to wait for probate to begin. You can pursue a case before the will goes through probate and the court has validated it.

Speak to an Experienced Richardson Estate Litigation Lawyer

If you want to challenge a matter with your loved one’s estate or resolve a dispute involving a family member, executor, or heir, contact Staubus and Randall immediately.

You can count on a dedicated and knowledgeable estate litigation lawyer in Richardson, TX, to advocate for your rights and try to reach your desired outcome.

Call 214-691-3411 for your confidential consultation today.

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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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