What is Estate Litigation?
Each jurisdiction deals with estate litigation in its own way and processes.
With our aging populations in Canada and the USA, estate litigation is on the rise. It’s not a commentary on the populace; instead it’s simply a result of an aging population. Moreover, the aging population has considerable resources which is usually a prerequisite for estate litigation.
What is estate litigation?
Estate litigation generally involves a claim where a will is in dispute. Either a person not named in the will, or someone named in the will who is not pleased with the terms of the will.
Often, when estate litigation starts, it will be “defended” by any of the other beneficiaries and/or the executor. Sometimes estate litigation ends up in trial; other times it resolves by way of negotiation or litigation before a trial.
There are other issues in estate litigation
Estate litigation doesn’t always involve a disputed will. It could involve creditors or a tort action against the estate. For example, if a creditor of the deceased claims to be owed money by the deceased, then that claim generally follows to the estate. If the executor disputes the creditor’s claim, then estate litigation may follow.
Tort actions, often for personal injury, may be the basis for estate litigation as well. For example, if an injured person claims the deceased was negligent, and that negligence caused injury, the injured person’s tort claim goes against the estate. Before an estate is distributed, the tort action must be resolved.
Estate litigation often involves many parties
Because there are often many beneficiaries of an estate, estate litigation may involve many parties. Each party may hire their own lawyer. In some cases several parties will hire the same lawyer. It all depends on the outcome each party seeks. For example, if 3 parties seek the same outcome, and therefore have the same interests, then they may decide to hire one lawyer to act for all of them.