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2 common reasons for succession litigation

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2023 | Succession/Probate

When someone takes the time to create an estate plan, they likely expect that their family members will abide by their final wishes. However, a significant number of estates in Louisiana end up litigated in court.

Succession litigation involves someone asking the courts to intervene because of a perceived issue with their estate. Obviously, there are many different reasons why interested parties might need to initiate a lawsuit during the succession proceedings for an estate.

For example, a creditor might file a lawsuit when the personal representative of the estate fails to provide notice or does not pay them before distributing assets to beneficiaries. Despite the near-infinite possible sources of conflict, the two problems below have a strong association with the initiation of Louisiana succession litigation.

Issues with estate documents

Often, the basis for succession litigation is concern about the validity of the estate planning documents. There are a number of reasons why family members may question the estate planning documents submitted to the succession courts.

Perhaps the adult who died already suffered from dementia at the time that they drafted the documents. Maybe the terms that they put in those documents violate Louisiana state law, possibly by denying their spouse their statutory right to inheritance. When family members think that there is an issue with someone’s estate plan or will, they might initiate succession litigation to address their concerns.

Problems with the representative

The person in charge of estate administration could do a lot of damage. They could waste resources or embezzle. They could sell estate assets for a fraction of their value or hire people they know to provide services at unreasonably high price points. Other times, it could be incompetence or failure to act at all that makes family members question the actions of a personal representative.

If people feel like the representative of an estate has failed to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries, they could potentially bring a claim seeking to remove that individual from their position. The person handling the succession process has a duty to the likely beneficiaries to put their needs first.

Litigation can prevent the loss of estate assets and/or better ensure that someone who will properly fulfill their obligations takes over the role of representative. Learning about the most common causes of succession litigation in Louisiana can help people evaluate their own circumstances and determine if they may need to go to court to advocate for their interests with the assistance of an experienced legal professional.