Centennial Will and Trust Contest Attorney
Wills and trusts are common areas of contention. Disputes can arise among beneficiaries or between fiduciaries and beneficiaries for various reasons. If you are dealing with a dispute regarding the trust or will of a deceased loved one, your best course of action is to speak with an experienced Denver wills and trusts lawyer. Call J R Phillips & Associates, PC at (303) 741-2400 as soon as possible for the dedicated legal representation you need. You may also contact us online.
Why Choose A Denver Wills and Trusts Lawyer?
- Our Colorado estate planning attorneys have more than four decades of experience handling all matters of estate law, including wills and trusts contests.
- Our founder, John R. Phillips, is a Certified Financial Planner, as well as an adjunct professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver.
- We offer a free initial consultation for trust litigation arising from wills and trusts and all practice areas we handle.
Denver Wills and Trust Contests Resources & FAQs
- Why Do You Need a Denver Wills and Trust Contests Attorney?
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty and Claims against Fiduciaries
- When Do Trust Disputes Occur?
- What Is Involved In Contesting a Will in Colorado?
- Legal Grounds for Contesting a Will in Denver
- How to Contest a Will or Trust in Colorado
- Is There a Time Limit?
- How to Avoid Contestations of Your Will or Trust in Denver
Why Do You Need an Attorney?
Wills and trusts are often sources of disputes. Whether these disputes are among the beneficiaries who have different ideas of how a trust or estate should be handled or they are between the beneficiaries and the fiduciaries overseeing the trust or the estate, the bottom line is that:
- These disputes can quickly become contentious and costly.
- Having an experienced trust and will attorney representing your interests will be pivotal to obtaining the best possible resolution.
At J R Phillips & Associates, PC, our Denver will contest and trust dispute attorneys are experienced at successfully resolving various types of disputes that may arise when it comes to the administration of trusts and estates. We have the legal knowledge, skills, and dedication necessary to work out the best possible solutions while advancing our clients’ interests and minimizing their expenses.
Breach of Fiduciary Duty and Claims against Fiduciaries
A breach of fiduciary duty can result in serious, costly damages to beneficiaries, as well as the assets protected by an estate or trust. While fiduciary duties may be breached when executors or trustees fail to act impartially and in the best interests of beneficiaries, they may also come about when fiduciaries comingle their assets with an estate or trust or when fiduciaries fail to properly manage an estate or trust in any way.
Whether you are a beneficiary who has a claim against a fiduciary or you are a fiduciary who has been accused breaching your duties, the Denver breach of fiduciary duty lawyers at J R Phillips & Associates, PC will be ready to provide you with superior representation and effective solutions for resolving these issues as beneficially as possible.
When Do Trust Disputes Occur?
Disputes over trusts can arise when beneficiaries question the validity of a trust, how that trust is being managed and whether or not the appointed trustee is living up to his duties and obligations of overseeing the trust. When trust disputes arise, resolving the issues that are the heart of the dispute will be critical to preserving the assets of the trusts and to prevent irrevocable damage to family and professional relationships.
At J R Phillips & Associates, PC our trust dispute lawyers are skilled at successfully resolving various types of trust disputes on behalf of beneficiaries and fiduciaries alike. While our goal is always to advance our clients’ interests and help them resolve the disputes outside of court, we are always ready to stand up for our clients in court when this is necessary to resolve a trust dispute and obtain justice for our clients.
What Is Involved In Contesting a Will in Colorado?
Will contest proceedings take place in probate court, the person filing the claim must notify the other beneficiaries. The burden of proof is on the claimant to show why the will is invalid. To pursue or defend against such a claim, you need an attorney with litigation experience and an in-depth understanding of the law.
Legal Grounds for Contesting a Will
Family members contest wills for many different reasons. The following are some of the most common legal grounds for a will contest.
Failure of Formality
There are certain standards of formality under the law in which a will should be drafted and signed.
- The testator or testatrix (the person creating the will) must be 18 years of age or older and of sound mind.
- The will must be in writing and signed by the testator or testatrix.
- The will must be signed and witnessed by two impartial persons and acknowledged by a notary public.
Although it is not best practices, holographic wills are accepted as valid in Colorado. This type of will is handwritten and signed by the testator or testatrix. Lacking professional oversight, holograph wills are more likely to have ambiguous language and improper terminology and are more easily contested in court.
In Colorado, a will might not be considered invalid if it is witnessed by an interested party, such as a beneficiary. Also, a testator who is unable to sign his name can appoint someone to sign on his (or her) behalf. However, best practices include:
- An estate planning attorney drafting the document
- Two impartial persons witnessing the will signing
- The testator or testatrix signing the will personally
Undue influence comes about when someone misuses power and trust to pressure and manipulate the testator or testatrix to the degree that he or she loses free will and succumbs to the influencer. Undue influence can be difficult to prove in court. Nagging and/or verbal abuse are not enough. Claims have greater weight in court if the accuser can show that the influencer isolated the testator from friends and family, paid for the will, or consulted with an attorney regarding the will.
The testator must be of sound mind when making and signing a will. To show that the testator was mentally incapacitated, you must prove that he or she did not fully comprehend the document and did not completely understand the measure and extent of the estate or the consequences of the division and distribution of property or was incapable of making rational decisions. If the testator suffered from dementia or Alzheimer’s, mental incapacity could be established through medical records, witness testimony, or correspondence around the time the will was signed.
How to Contest a Will or Trust in Colorado?
If you believe that you have grounds to contest a will or trust in Colorado, contact an attorney immediately for a legal consult. Contestation is difficult as the petitioner, as the burden of proof will lie with you. An attorney, however, may be able to shift the burden of proof. An attorney can provide objective legal advice to help you file your lawsuit and take care of all of the required steps to filing on your behalf, including:
- Filing the required paperwork to initiate your lawsuit.
- Filing any applicable documents that support the basis for your claim.
- Subpoenaing relevant documents from the party who set up the will or trust.
- Subpoenaing the testator’s medical records to check for mental capacity.
- Searching for evidence that an actor in the will or trust was exercising undue influence.
- Representing you at trial.
- Helping you prove the grounds for your contestation to a judge or jury.
It can be much easier to take these steps with assistance from an attorney. An attorney can guide you through the legal process while answering all of your legal questions and keeping you informed about the status of your case. When the stakes are high for a claim, it is important to trust the legal process with a qualified and experienced lawyer from J R Phillips and Associates, PC.
Is There a Time Limit?
Yes, Colorado law imposes a time limit on the ability to contest a will or trust. This time limit, known as a statute of limitations, is meant to encourage prompt legal action, while key evidence is still available. It also prevents issues and complications arising from a petitioner waiting an inordinate amount of time to bring a lawsuit. A statute of limitations keeps the legal system just by preventing a legal action from hanging over beneficiaries’ heads for an indefinite amount of time.
In Colorado, the amount of time a petitioner has to contest a revocable trust is generally three years from the date of the testator’s death (Colorado Revised Statutes Section 15-16-704). However, the deadline may be reduced to 120 days if the petitioner received a notice informing him or her of the existence of the trust ahead of time. The same deadlines apply to a lawsuit filed to contest a will. With only rare exceptions, if you attempt to contest a trust or will after the deadline has expired, the courts will refuse to hear your case.
How to Avoid Contestations of Your Will or Trust?
If you are the testator of a will or trust, there are steps that you can take to reduce the odds of your beneficiaries contesting your wishes. First, you can work with an attorney to create your estate plan and ensure that all of your documents are legal, valid and enforceable. Second, you can have witnesses or a notary present while you are creating and signing your will and trust. Third, avoid making major last-minute changes to your estate plan to reduce the odds of contestation on the grounds of undue influence or fraud.
Having a discussion with your friends and family members about your estate plan can also help prevent contestations. You can hear opinions from your loved ones and explain to them what will happen after you pass away while there is still time to make adjustments, as needed. Talking openly about your estate plan can help avoid surprises that can make a beneficiary want to dispute your will or trust. If you cannot have this conversation, however, you can include a no-contest clause in your document, which can create rules such as taking anyone who contests the terms of your will out of the document.
Centennial Wills and Trusts Lawyer at J R Phillips & Associates, PC.
When any type of dispute arises regarding a will, a trust or an estate, you can turn to the will contest and trust dispute lawyers at J R Phillips & Associates, PC. We provide a thoughtful, comprehensive approach to our clients’ disputes, issues, and needs, and we are committed to helping each of our clients work out the best possible solutions to their important legal matters.
Schedule an Initial Consultation Today
Let’s discuss your options for resolving your dispute or issue during an initial consultation. To schedule this meeting, call our Denver wills and trusts lawyer from J R Phillips & Associates, PC at (303) 741-240 or email us using our convenient online contact form.
From our offices in Denver, we serve clients throughout the southwest and southeast Metro Area, including (but not limited to) people in Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Castle Rock, Parker, Aurora, Greenwood Village, Englewood, Centennial.