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Estate and Trust Disputes

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When a loved one passes, disputes over inheritance can damage both assets and relationships. Your loved one likely had a specific plan in place for their assets. Unfortunately, in late stages of life, people often can get taken advantage of and be convinced to change their estate plan or beneficiaries without understanding their actions. Other times, people acting as powers of attorney or as fiduciaries abuse their power and take advantage of the elderly person’s estate.

An experienced estate and trust disputes lawyer at Alvine Weidenaar, LLP can help families navigate legal issues in Sioux Falls, Mitchell, and throughout South Dakota.

There are complex probate, fiduciary, and estate planning laws that will apply to your case. Avoid navigating these difficult times alone by contacting our legal team as soon as possible. Schedule your Free Consultation to find out more about your dispute or litigation options.

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What Is an Estate and Trust Dispute?

Estate and trust disputes are legal disagreements about the administration of a decedent’s estate. Heirs, family members, and businesses can initiate an estate and trust dispute if they believe that the successor trustee or personal representative lacks accountability or commits a breach.

Common types of estate and trust dispute cases we handle include the following:

  • Beneficiary disputes
  • Breaches of fiduciary duty
  • Contested conservatorships
  • Contested guardianships
  • Financial exploitation matters
  • Reformation proceedings
  • Successor trustee disputes
  • Will disputes & contests
  • Trust disputes & contests
  • Other estate and trust disputes

It’s essential to work with a South Dakota estate and trust disputes lawyer to ensure that your interests and rights are protected. Alvine Weidenaar, LLP will hold your detractors accountable by investigating the estate’s administration and preserving evidence that speaks to the facts. Our legal team works responsively to interpret the documents accurately and uphold your loved one’s final wishes.

When to Involve a South Dakota Estate and Trust Disputes Lawyer

Understanding when to involve an estate and trust disputes lawyer depends upon your specific circumstances. If you believe that something is wrong, you should seek the opinion of a legal professional as soon as possible. You will have peace of mind as an interested party while learning more about your rights in the process.

The estate and trust dispute lawyers at Alvine Weidenaar, LLP promptly help clients resolve any issues.

Scenario 1. Estate Mismanagement

South Dakota laws require personal representatives and successor trustees to manage the estate in the beneficiaries’ best interests. When they don’t, their actions can deplete valuable estate assets, which leaves heirs with far less than they deserve. Not to mention that their efforts don’t serve the decedent’s final wishes.

Mismanagement could manifest in several ways, including: 

  • Not providing transparent accounting records
  • Interfering with a beneficiary’s inheritance
  • Committing a breach in the fiduciary duty toward the estate
  • Acting as a successor trustee is a conflict of interest
  • Alleging that the estate planning documents are invalid
  • Not working in the best interest of the estate and heirs
  • Other legal issues

Our legal team will clarify your rights and how to resolve the situation. We will devise a case strategy that seeks the most practical outcome and execute upon your directive. Your family can rely upon the trusted legal advice throughout the entire process.

Scenario 2. Challenges to the Estate

It’s not unusual for beneficiaries to contest their share of the estate’s assets. These situations typically involve being left out of a will or receiving far less than intended. Regardless of the circumstances, be aware that their claims may impact your rights as a beneficiary.

Estate disputes are nuanced and complicated. They can entail advanced legal strategies. If the other party has representation, they’re likely planning to go to court already.

Alvine Weidenaar, LLP will keep you up to date on new developments and advise you on their legal implications. We are always ready to intervene and protect your interests if the situation escalates.

Scenario 3. Surprising Estate Planning Document Changes

It’s not unusual for people to openly discuss their estate planning intentions in the years leading up to their death. Sudden or unexpected document changes could indicate that something is amiss. If the estate planning documents differ wildly from expectation, you should consult a South Dakota estate planning and disputes lawyer early on in the process.

Examples of disputes involving invalidated estate planning documents include:

  • Decedents signed their estate planning documents under duress
  • Beneficiaries believe the estate planning documents were forged
  • Decedent was mentally-incapacitated at the time of signing
  • Decedent drafted new documents that succeeded the originals
  • Other legal issues surrounding estate planning documents

It’s challenging to know when you have a bonafide legal problem in estate planning and probate administration. The general rule is to speak with an attorney for legal advice to play it safe. We can determine if you have a case or your situation warrants further investigation.

How to Resolve an Estate and Trust Dispute in South Dakota

Anyone dealing with the issues mentioned above may want to resolve them outside of court. In this situation, negotiations are always a practical first step toward an amicable resolution. Alvine Weidenaar, LLP often initiates disputes in this manner unless other circumstances suggest that filing a lawsuit is the better approach.

We will act as a communications buffer between you and the opposing party throughout the process. As new information surfaces, we will explain what is happening and how to move forward in your case. Regardless of what happens during negotiations, our legal team will stand by your side every step of the way.

If opposing counsel or parties refuse to resolve your grievance satisfactorily, then the last option is to take them to court. Alvine Weidenaar, LLP can help you file the petition, navigate the discovery process, prepare for mediation or arbitration, and recover damages owed to the estate or any aggrieved parties.

Schedule Your Free Consultation Today

You don’t have to sit by idly if you suspect that the personal representative or successor trustee fails to administer the estate effectively. After all, your inheritance and loved one’s last directives are on the line. Pursuing a dispute could also send a larger public message that it’s never okay to act negligently.

South Dakota protects individuals in your situation. Get more information about your case by contacting Alvine Weidenaar, LLP for a Free Consultation here.

Alvine Weidenaar Resources

Learn about your rights and how we approach cases here at Alvine & Weidenaar.

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