Experienced Arizona Attorney Litigating Probate and Trust Disputes
Ready to help you with even the most-complex cases and estates
At the law office of Helene S. Fenlon, PLC, trial attorney Helene Fenlon represents institutions and individual beneficiaries, heirs, executors and trustees in probate and trust litigation. With more than 20 years of legal experience and a background in finance, Ms. Fenlon is well suited to handle the complex financial issues that probate and trust litigation can encompass.
Demanding accountability and fairness
The individual chosen to be the personal representative of the estate, trustee of a trust or to hold power of attorney has a fiduciary duty to dispatch his obligations professionally and in accordance with the wishes of the testator or grantor of a trust. Any deliberate fraud or negligence in accounting for assets can and should be challenged in probate. Attorney Fenlon has vast experience dealing with estate matters and can form a quick and accurate appraisal of whether or not matters are being handled competently and honestly.
Problems requiring probate and trust litigation
There are a variety of reasons an individual or a family may choose to take a probate case to trial or to contest a will:
- If it is suspected that the deceased was mentally incompetent at the time that the will was written
- If it is suspected that the deceased was unduly influenced (or threatened) by someone who would directly or indirectly benefit from the will or trust (or from a change to the will or trust)
- If two or more contradictory wills exist and investigation yields inconclusive results regarding which is the final legal will
- If it is suspected that the will is a forgery
- If the will or trust was improperly written; or it is unclear, incomplete or contradictory, — and therefore, is not enforceable or requires judicial interpretation
Fiduciary litigation or fiduciary-removal proceedings involve disputes over the management (or mismanagement) of an estate or trust, theft or embezzlement from an estate or trust, or the need to change or remove a trustee. Some examples of claims of breach of fiduciary duty are:
- Caregivers or adult children who financially have benefited by misusing a financial power of attorney granted by an elder relative
- Trustees profiting personally from the management of a trust by accepting excessive compensation
- Trustees embezzling from a trust for personal gain
- Conflicts of interest between a trustee or administrator and beneficiaries
- Suspicion that a trustee or administrator is using extremely poor management or investment strategies for the trust or estate
- Mismanagement of a family-owned business
Don’t expect success if you handle objections yourself
Many beneficiaries hesitate to hire an attorney because they trust the probate court to do what is fair or because they wish to keep a family dispute within the family. However, there are things you should consider before attempting to handle a probate or trust issue yourself. The court is not an investigative body: Just because you bring up an issue does not mean that the judge is obligated to search for supporting evidence. You can present allegations, but without the strong basis that a professional attorney can provide, your suspicions may receive little consideration. Moreover, a seasoned attorney who has been through probate or trust negotiations before is likely to produce a settlement that satisfies all parties and enables the proceedings to move forward at less cost to the estate.
Contact an established probate litigation law firm in Scottsdale
Don’t add to your emotional loss by losing out on your loved one’s legacy. To schedule an appointment with Helene S. Fenlon, PLC, call her office today at 480.584.3223 or contact her online.