Handling Probate-Related Disputes

Disputes over the distribution of assets, execution of a will, or mismanagement of a trust often come with multiple layers of complexity. The first is the obvious challenge of understanding the legal issues that are the grounds for the dispute. A second layer is often the emotional upheaval that comes with the death of a loved one and the desire to honor the valued relationship an heir had with the deceased.

When resolving a probate or estate dispute, a wise attorney will work with the act with skill, empathy and integrity to advise clients on cost-effective options for resolution or to protect the clients' interest in court.

At Bennett & Erdman, we represent beneficiaries, executors, and trustees in negotiations and in court as they seek a resolution to a probate dispute, a problem with a trust, or unfair treatment in a will. Attorneys Jeffrey Erdman and Julie Pearson represent clients in estate litigation in the Los Angeles areas as well as throughout Southern California.

Contact Us Today
To discuss a problem with probate, a violation of fiduciary duty, or to contest a will, speak with a Southern California estate litigation attorney at 1-877-820-6534 or contact us online and a member of our firm will respond quickly.

Litigation Involving Wills, Trusts and Estates

We protect the interests of beneficiaries, helping them to secure the financial and property interests that are legally due to them. We also defend executors accused of mismanagement of the probate process and trustees accused of mismanagement of a trust. We assist clients with a wide range of estate litigation, including:

Will contests: Most will contests result from claims by an heir that a will is invalid because:

  • The person who created or changed the will was impaired and therefore did not have the capacity to create a legally valid document (testamentary capacity), or
  • That the person who created or changed the will was unduly influenced by another party (a caregiver, a family member, a religious leader). While a person can name anyone as a beneficiary in a will, heirs sometimes wish to contest and disqualify a named beneficiary because of their proximity and influence.
  • In some cases, the deceased made a significant pledge or promise has been made to a charity, church or school, which had not yet been fulfilled or was to be put into effect after death. The recipient may need legal help to obtain the gift; sometimes heirs contest such gifts.

Probate Problems: Beneficiaries sometimes bring suit against the executor of an estate for breach of fiduciary claiming that the value of the estate was reduced because of decisions made by the executor. They may challenge the validity of creditor claims that were paid from the estate. They may challenge the valuation of assets of the estate that were sold in order for the proceeds to be distributed.

Similarly, a creditor of the estate may bring a claim against the executor to obtain payment of a debt owed. We represent both executors and creditors in such suits.

Trusts Mismanagement: The trustees of a trust have a substantial fiduciary duty to protect and grow the assets of a trust. Financial misconduct, such as using or investing the assets of the trust in order to gain personal financial benefits or failing to distribute funds from the trust in accordance with the terms of the trust, can result in estate litigation. We have been successful in getting trustees removed by the court for financial misconduct or trustee negligence.