There are of course a great many things that can see individuals in court, situations that lead to litigation. In this blog we have frequently referenced disputes among shareholders and partners, corporate litigation situations, but these are far from the only reasons people end up in court. One source of a great many litigation cases is a dispute arising in connection with a contested estate.
In a corporate dispute, the litigants are shareholders or partners and dispute centers around corporate documents like bylaws and partnership agreements and on statutes like the Illinois Business Corporation Act. In estate litigation, the litigants are often family members, relatives, heirs and assigns of the deceased, and the documents at the center of the dispute are trusts and wills.
A number of issues frequently arise in estate litigation. An estate is based upon the will and possibly upon trusts. Litigation often arises when one party has reason to contest the validity of these documents. One might assert, for example, that the decedent was not of sound mind when they signed a will, or that a relative caretaker exerted undue influence in the shaping of a trust. There might also be accusations of outright forgery, resolved with handwriting experts brought in to authenticate a signature.
Estate plans can also be unclear or lead to conflicting provisions. Although the relevant documents should be crafted to hedge such problems off before they occur, no document is perfect. Just as proper corporate planning can avoid disputes before they happen, careful estate planning can avoid estate litigation. But in both cases, disputes can still arise and the parties involved can still find themselves arguing their cases in court.
When they do, they will be well advised to seek knowledgeable counsel to ensure their interests are properly represented and that they receive the best possible advocacy in the dispute.
Horowitz Law Offices has represented numerous individuals in connection with estate litigation, will and trust contests, and related probate matters.
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