What To Do If Someone Sues You Over An Estate

Most folks will never have to deal with an estate lawsuit. However, learning that someone is suing you over an estate can leave you confused and wondering what your options are. An estate litigation lawyer will encourage clients to do these four things once a suit has begun.

Collect and Copy the Core Documents

The will is the centerpiece of an estate. In cases where folks are litigious, though, there also frequently is at least one trust. You want to obtain and copy every document that directs the disposition of the estate. On the upside, someone should've filed all the documents with the probate court, so locating them shouldn't be challenging.

Even if someone is pursuing litigation based on an alternate version of the will, the court should have a filing that includes the alleged alternative document. Bear in mind, though, that there may be some fees if you have to ask the court to produce the records and provide copies.

Notably, an executor may need to grab more documents if they're the defendant in a case. If someone is alleging negligence or fraud in the estate's administration, the executor will need to document their good-faith efforts to put the decedent's will into action.

Get Counsel

You should also contact an estate litigation attorney. Most legal issues are confusing, but estate law involves some seldom-seen concepts that even surprise lawyers who practice outside of the field. You want to have counsel so that you can understand the plaintiff's theory of the case. Likewise, the judge will likely ask you questions in writing, and it's best to have an estate litigation lawyer tell you how to phrase your answers.

Be Responsive

The biggest mistake you can make during this process is to fail to respond to requests from the court. Whenever you get paperwork, make copies and provide them to your estate litigation attorney as soon as possible. If the court requires a response, know what the deadline is for filing it. Whenever there are court dates, make sure that you attend. Also, if the judge enters an injunction or order, obey it down to the letter.

Request a Dismissal

An estate litigation attorney representing a defendant will often ask the judge to dismiss the case. While the law allows everyone their day in court, plaintiffs have to prove they deserve more of the judge's time than that. There are plenty of potential arguments for dismissing a case, including insufficient evidence, lack of standing, and faulty legal logic.