In California as somewhere else, many people are usually reluctant individuals in estate disputes. There’s no difference whether the disagreement entails trust lawsuits, probate lawsuits or a Will Contest.
People who are frozen out of Wills and Trust generally don’t utilize legal words of art to describe their plight. Most likely, they are apt to explain themselves as a son or child whose inheritance was taken by a stepmother, stepfather or caretaker throughout the last months of their mother or daddy’s life.
Getting terminology down in estate related lawsuits is somewhat complicated – even for attorneys. A “Recipient” implies a person to whom a donative transfer of property is made or that person’s successor in interest. A donative transfer is the voluntary present of property from one individual to another.
The recipient of a donative transfer who receives the gift by operation of law in an intestate estate is an “beneficiary.” An intestate estate describes a scenario where a person passes away without leaving a valid will.
The recipient of a donative transfer – a gift – who receives the gift by operation of a valid Will in a “testate” estate is a “devisee.”
Now I have to say that I have actually never had a client concerned me and inform me that she is a “Devisee” under a Will. Possibly somebody might have stated this a a century ago, however unless the customer is a professor of Wills and Trusts, it is a not likely reference.
Many preliminary interviews with abused recipients or hurt successors have the preliminary flavor of “Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” – “A genuine hurtin’ tune about a love that’s failed.” While the love that’s gone wrong might not be infidelity, it is usually a love between relative that is disrupted by the wrongdoing of another. Such misdeed has real-life negative emotional and monetary repercussions. We come in to reverse the repercussions or to minimize them.
Probate litigation attorneys or Trust litigation attorneys are engaged by recipients or beneficiaries for lots of factors – amongst them and commonly disputes about the validity of trusts or trust modifications, the validity of the consultation of trustees or the abuse of trusts by selected trustees, difficulties over the credibility of Wills along with differences over what property remains in a Trust or Estate.
The supreme quest in Estate lawsuits is justice and the effectuation of the intent of the Trust maker (the “Settlor” or “Trustor”) or Will maker (“Testator”). Filing Court of probate petitions and/or Grievances in California Superior Courts bring Court oversight to the determination and timing of Estate disagreements. While few enjoy the prospect of lawsuits we reside in a society where nonviolent methods of dispute resolution exist. This is the role of the Courts and they do a great job at resolution – resolutions that otherwise appear intractable without the intervention of the legal system.