Estate Litigation Lawyer Phoenix, AZ
When you have lost someone, and are not satisfied with the contents of a will or trust, you may need to call upon the help of an estate litigation lawyer in Phoenix, AZ. At the same time, you might be the heir or beneficiary of someone who has recently passed and have been contacted by a long lost sibling, or family member, who was not included in the estate plan, but believes they should have been. Now, they may be threatening legal action. Whether you are the person who is unsatisfied or you are concerned about another person who claims this, you should have an estate litigation lawyer in Phoenix, AZ on your side.
What Happens When a Family Member Dies Without a Will?
Whether it be a parent, sibling, or another close relative, it is more likely than you might realize that a family member may die without a will. Multiple surveys indicate that more than half of adults in the United States have not yet made out a will. The elderly are more likely to have taken this responsible step, but unfortunately, death does not occur only among the elderly.
The death of a loved one can be difficult enough to cope with, but if he or she did not have a will, dealing with the practical concerns that follow a death can be even more complicated for you and your family. In a worst-case scenario, litigation will ensue, and you will need to retain a Phoenix, AZ estate litigation lawyer. At Kamper & Estrada, PLLC, we know of many different litigation matters; however, the following are matters that are likely to arise.
Administration of the Estate
When a person makes a will, he or she names someone to serve as the executor, whose job it is to manage the estate. However, even if the decedent did not draft a will, the estate will still need management. If there is no will to name an executor, a judge will have to appoint one.
Possible candidates to serve as the executor of the estate depend on the laws of your state. Often, the first choice is a surviving spouse or registered domestic partner, followed by adult children. The list of people who may be appointed administrator is provided by the state. In some cases, an estate planning lawyer Phoenix, AZ has to offer may be appointed as the executor.
Guardianship of Minor Children
Children who lose both their parents at the same time and have not yet reached the age of majority require a guardian. Parents who make out a will typically name a guardian for their children. However, if the parents do not have a will, the court must appoint a guardian, usually a family member.
There is a common misconception that the state will take possession of the decedent’s property if he or she dies without a will. This is rarely, if ever, the case. If a family member dies without a will, the state will divide up the property among family members according to the rules of intestate succession of the jurisdiction.
“Intestate” is a legal term meaning “without a will,” while “succession” just means that there is a particular hierarchy that the courts must follow in distributing the decedent’s property. The rules of intestate succession vary by state, but usually the decedent’s spouse and children will inherit first, often followed by parents and/or siblings. This can cause problems if there are children of a former relationship, unregistered domestic partners, family rifts, etc. In this case an estate litigation lawyer in Phoenix, AZ will need to be utilized.
However, not having a will is not necessarily the same thing as not having an estate plan. Sometimes the decedent has no minor children and little or no probate property, making a will unnecessary. Our attorneys can answer your questions about intestate succession, estate planning, and related matters when you contact our office.
For a discussion with an estate planning lawyer in Phoenix, AZ, call Kamper & Estrada, PLLC.