Summerville Probate Litigation Lawyer
Probate is the court-supervised process of giving effect to a will. If all goes smoothly, a will can proceed through probate in a matter of months, with the estate of the deceased distributed in accordance with the terms of the will. But all does not always go smoothly. A challenge to the validity of a will or performance of a personal representative can transform an informal estate administration into a formal, contested proceeding that must be litigated in the courtroom. The Summerville probate litigation lawyers at Shelbourne Law have decades of experience handling South Carolina probate litigation in the courtrooms of Charleston, Dorchester, Colleton and Berkeley counties. If you are the personal representative of an estate facing probate litigation, or an heir or beneficiary who believes matters are not being handled properly, call our office to speak with a skilled and knowledgeable South Carolina probate attorney.
Reasons for Probate Litigation in South Carolina Estate Administration
Probate litigation can arise in any number of ways. For example, a spouse or child may be omitted from the will, and it may be unclear if the omission was intentional or not. In the case of a second marriage, there may be a dispute among children of the first and second marriages, or with a stepparent. When members of the same class are treated differently, they may feel that some error has been made. If a will was later changed or replaced, an heir who fared better under the previous will may challenge the validity of the later will. Probate litigation can be based on many factors, such as:
Fraud, Duress or Undue Influence – the allegation that a relative or caretaker somehow tricked or manipulated the testator (person making the will) into writing the will in a certain way
Lack of Capacity – The will may be challenged on the ground that the testator did not have the capacity to make the will. Being of sound mind or capable of writing a will basically requires that you understand the extent of your estate and the consequences of the distributions you make. The older a person is at the time of making a will, the more likely a discontented heir may challenge the testator’s capacity.
Invalid Will – Wills must be created according to strict procedures. A will contest may allege that the required formalities were not followed in creating, modifying or revoking a will. It is important to engage an experienced estate planning attorney when creating a will to avoid these challenges later on.
Personal Representative – The personal representative responsible for administering the estate owes fiduciary duties to the estate and the intended heirs and beneficiaries. Litigation may be required to resolve claims that the representative violated fiduciary duties by enriching him or herself at the estate’s expense, failing to properly invest or maintain estate property, or other misconduct.
Attorney Brandt Shelbourne is experienced litigating cases when parties are fighting over an estate, when a spouse chooses to exercise rights to an elective share, or other situations requiring litigation in probate court, including appeals to Circuit Court as necessary.
Professional Representation in the Resolution of Summerville Probate Disputes
For effective representation in the resolution of probate litigation in Charleston, Dorchester, Colleton and Berkeley counties, contact the offices of Shelbourne Law in Summerville to speak with a skilled and experienced Summerville probate lawyer.