Sometimes, when people talk to a Colorado estate planning lawyer it’s because they are considering the possibility of estate litigation. Unlike the estate planning process, the litigation process necessarily involves filing a lawsuit, or at the very least, threatening to do so.
Even though every capable adult can create an estate plan, estate litigation is a little more complicated. Not just everyone can, for example, contest a last will and testament.
To get a better understanding of what estate litigation in Colorado is and how it works, let’s take a look at some common issues involved in the process.
Who can begin estate litigation in Colorado?
This question isn’t one that always has an easy answer. In general, in order to begin the estate litigation process you have to be an interested party. This means that you have to have some connection to the proceeding other than being a bystander.
For example, if you want to contest someone’s last will and testament, you must typically either stand to inherit through the will or stand to inherit from the estate if the will is invalid. This generally precludes the average person from being able to file a will contest, but it does allow family members and people named in the document to challenge the will in court.
When can you begin estate litigation?
This question depends on the circumstances as well. In some situations you can begin litigation immediately, while in others you might have to wait. For example, let’s say your grandfather decides to name your sibling as the executor of his estate. You believe your sibling is irresponsible and will undoubtedly cause the estate problems by mishandling it and, quite possibly, committing illegal actions in her role as executor. However, just because you believe this doesn’t mean you can file a lawsuit to ask the courts to change the will. Your grandfather’s will doesn’t become effective until it is submitted to a court, and only after this happens can you try to challenge it.
On the other hand, let’s say your grandfather has died and someone has submitted the will that names your sibling as his executor. Let’s further say that your sister has not done anything wrong as an executor, but you believe that she used undue influence over your grandfather while he was alive in order to get him to name her as the executor of his estate. In this situation you can begin the estate litigation process to ask the court to remove your sister as executor or even declare the will to be invalid.
What are my options with estate litigation?
In short, there are many. No two estate litigation situations are identical, and you must speak to your estate planning lawyer in Colorado about the possibility of filing a lawsuit. If you have more questions on estate litigation in Colorado, give our office a call in Colorado Springs 719-520-1474 or in Denver 303-736-6060.