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Probate Litigation

Experienced New Mexico Attorney Litigates Probate Disputes

Albuquerque lawyer represents clients in inheritance conflicts

A loved one’s legacy can ease the pain of loss by reminding heirs of a departed family member’s enduring love. But when questions arise about the validity of a will or the management of estate assets, uncertainty can arouse animosity and prevent closure. If you, as a beneficiary, suspect that a will does not reflect the wishes of the deceased, you have a right to challenge the proceedings in court. Similarly, if you believe an executor, trustee or estate administrator is mismanaging estate assets, you have standing to raise that issue. On the other hand, an executor or estate administrator is entitled to a vigorous defense against accusations of incompetence or unlawful conduct. NM Trust and Probate Law Firm, LLC provides highly professional representation for aggrieved beneficiaries and accused fiduciaries in estate disputes.

Challenges to the validity of a will

There are several bases for challenging a will. These include:

  • Lack of capacity — This ground alleges that the testator was not of sound mind at the time the will or trust was executed.
  • Undue influence — Documents might be invalid if a person with access to and power over the testator used emotional manipulation to gain special consideration in the will.
  • Fraud — This ground alleges the testator was deceived about the contents of the document at the time of execution.
  • Void for vagueness — This ground asserts that the terms of a will are open to conflicting interpretations and it is impossible to know which interpretation is correct. A challenger can prevent part or all of the will from being implemented.
  • Tortious Interference with inheritance — Tortious interference actions occur when there is no relief in probate and assets are diverted from the estate of a departed person prior to their death.  This can include beneficiary designations on bank accounts, safety deposit boxes, real estate deeds, life insurance and investment accounts. These actions occur when money is taken out of the departed person’s bank account without authorization by the departed person. At times the funds are diverted by a person who is acting as power of attorney for the departed person before the death of the departed person. NM Trust and Probate Law Firm, LLC can pursue claims against the person who diverted the funds to put those funds back into the estate. If you believe you have a tortious interference claim, call NM Trust and Probate Law Firm, LLC for a claim evaluation today.

Many probate disputes stem from suspicions that a particular individual took advantage of the declining health or dementia of the deceased to insinuate himself into the will to the detriment of the rightful heirs. The court looks very harshly on this type of elder exploitation. However, it is important to note that disappointment is not grounds for an heir to challenge a will. All challenges must be supported by reliable evidence.

Breach of fiduciary duty in estate settlement and trust management

The executor of a will or the administrator of an intestate estate is a fiduciary with a legal duty to manage estate assets according to the testator’s wishes and for the benefit of the beneficiaries. The fiduciary must perform at a professional standard so that assets are not lost due to waste, fraud, misallocation or mismanagement. Beneficiaries may challenge deliberate or negligent misconduct and demand a full accounting. I have vast experience on both sides of trust and estate controversies. I have close associations with forensic accountants who can render accurate assessments of asset management and help us assemble evidence to prove or rebut allegations.

Don’t expect success if you handle objections yourself

Many people hesitate to hire an attorney because they wish to keep a family dispute within the family. However, the court may treat your suspicions lightly if you raise them without a professional presentation and a firm basis in the law that an attorney can provide. Moreover, a seasoned attorney who has been through such negotiations before is likely to produce a settlement that satisfies all parties and allows the proceedings to move forward at less cost to the estate.

Contact an established trust and estate litigation lawyer in New Mexico

Conflicts among beneficiaries or between beneficiaries and fiduciaries can be very destructive without experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel. NM Trust and Probate Law Firm, LLC provides capable representation for beneficiaries and fiduciaries throughout New Mexico. Call today at 505-585-3239 or contact my office online to schedule a consultation at my Albuquerque office.

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Our Office
  • Albuquerque Office
    PO Box 25403
    Albuquerque, New Mexico 87125
    Phone: 505-798-2630
    Fax: 800-215-9176