Skip links

Inheritance Disputes

Free Consultation

(949) 237-2030

Send Us A Message

Newport Beach Inheritance Disputes Attorney

Crafting a thorough estate plan is among the most valuable actions individuals can take to mitigate uncertainty and reduce the likelihood of inheritance-related conflicts. When a family member passes away, their surviving loved ones face the challenge of navigating personal grief alongside legal matters that may arise. One such matter revolves around inheritance, encompassing the transfer of property ownership rights from the deceased to their designated beneficiaries. If you’re facing inheritance dispute issues in California, contact Finn Legal Group today at (949) 237-2030 for more information.

What Is Inheritance Litigation?

Inheritance litigation refers to the legal process through which the probate court resolves disputes that arise regarding inheritances. This facet of the law encompasses a wide range of issues, including disagreements among family members regarding their entitlement to specific portions of a deceased individual’s estate or trust, as well as disputes concerning the validity of wills or trust documents. If you find yourself embroiled in an inheritance dispute or are contemplating whether to participate in one, it is important to be aware of several key considerations.

  • The burden of proof typically rests with the individual contesting their inheritance or the lack thereof. However, during the course of litigation, this burden can shift to the opposing party if the facts of your case establish a presumption of undue influence according to the law. Inheritance disputes can be both costly and time-consuming, yet the potential benefits may outweigh the drawbacks if your case reaches a favorable resolution. If you are contemplating contesting an inheritance, it is advisable to consult with an attorney to explore potential costs, as well as the advantages and disadvantages associated with litigation.
  • If you are anticipating an inheritance from an estate or trust, it is crucial to actively engage in any inheritance dispute involving other parties. Failure to do so can have negative consequences on your own inheritance, as the resolution reached by the other parties may have an adverse impact on your interests. It is therefore essential to ensure your active participation to safeguard your rightful share.
  • Inheritance disputes often find resolution outside of a courtroom, sparing the need for a costly and time-consuming trial. Mediation, a process wherein a neutral mediator facilitates negotiations between parties, aims to achieve a settlement agreement. Opting for this approach can save significant time and money while still achieving a satisfactory resolution.

Common Inheritance Disputes In California

When an individual is entitled to their rightful inheritance from the estate or trust of a deceased person, it is crucial that they receive what is rightfully theirs. However, there are instances where beneficiaries may face challenges in obtaining their inheritance. Situations may arise where their inheritance is wrongfully reduced or eliminated, or when someone threatens their entitlement, leading to disputes over the inheritance.

For instance, let’s consider a scenario where an adult child had always been promised their father’s home. However, when the father’s will was read, it simply stated that the decedent’s home should go to his child. Due to the presence of multiple children, this provision in the will created ambiguity, allowing for different interpretations. Each of the decedent’s children could argue that they are entitled to the home. To resolve the dispute, the court will thoroughly examine the rest of the will for clues about the decedent’s true intentions, and may even consider extrinsic evidence.

Furthermore, a decedent’s will or trust may specify that the executor of an estate or the trustee of a trust should divide the assets equally among their three children. However, there are instances where the executor or trustee fails to distribute or mismanages the assets. When fiduciary duties are not fulfilled, and proper and timely distributions to beneficiaries are not made, it is highly likely that an inheritance dispute will arise. In such cases, beneficiaries may need to bring a claim against the executor or trustee. There are various common reasons for inheritance disputes, including but not limited to:

  • Ambiguous provisions in the will or trust
  • Failure to distribute or mismanagement of assets by the executor or trustee
  • Challenges to the validity of the will or trust
  • Allegations of undue influence or lack of capacity in the decedent
  • Disagreements among beneficiaries regarding asset distribution

It is of utmost importance to handle these matters delicately and seek professional legal counsel to guarantee that beneficiaries receive their rightful inheritance and effectively resolve any potential disputes that may arise.

  • Improper division of assets
  • Ambiguities within a will or trust or misinterpretation of the will or trust
  • Undue influence or fraud committed against the decedent by someone close to them, compelling drastic changes to their will or trust (this type of inheritance dispute typically requires filing a trust or will contest)
  • The creator of the will or trust lacked the mental capacity to execute the document in question
  • The will or trust includes gifts to “disqualified persons” such as caregivers or fiduciaries

If you are determined to claim the inheritance you deserve or protect what is rightfully yours, inheritance disputes may become inevitable. Each dispute presents its own unique challenges, so when facing a complex probate or trust situation, seeking guidance from an experienced inheritance dispute attorney in Newport Beach is a prudent choice. Finn Legal Group can assist you in navigating intricate probate matters and ensure that you fully comprehend your rights as a beneficiary or heir.

What Happens If A Loved One Dies Without A Will?

If a loved one dies without a will, their assets will be distributed to their intestate heirs via a process known as intestate succession, which is laid in California Probate Code sections 6400 – 6455.  The laws of intestate succession determine which of the decedent’s relatives stand to inherit their property, and since these are codified laws, they generally cannot be disputed. 

Under intestate succession, the property of a deceased individual will always be transferred to their closest living relatives. In the majority of cases, this includes their surviving spouse and children. In the absence of a spouse or children, the parents of the decedent will inherit the property. If neither parents nor children exist, the property will then be passed on to the siblings.

Does California Have An Inheritance Tax Or Estate Tax?

California does not impose any inheritance tax or estate tax. This means that when you inherit property from a deceased person, you are not obligated to pay any state taxes on the value of that property. However, if you are acting as a trustee or executor/administrator, it is likely that you will be responsible for paying taxes on behalf of the deceased individual. This includes any unpaid personal taxes, federal estate taxes, and taxes on income generated by the estate or trust. Trustees and executors/administrators are obligated to settle these taxes, along with any outstanding debts owed by the deceased, before distributing assets to beneficiaries or heirs.

What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Inheritance Litigation?

The statute of limitations for inheritance litigation will vary depending on the nature of the claim. For instance, if you wish to contest a trust, you’ll have a window of 120 days from the date you receive a formal notice of trust administration from the trustee. However, other claims may have different limitations that can expire at any time. Therefore, it is crucial to act promptly and seek the assistance of an inheritance dispute lawyer as soon as you believe your inheritance rights have been infringed upon.

Contact Our Newport Beach Inheritance Dispute Lawyer Now

Finn Legal Group fearlessly tackles complex inheritance dispute litigation matters. Our experienced and reliable inheritance dispute lawyer in Newport Beach provides effective assistance to clients at every stage of the probate process. Discover how we can safeguard and preserve your rightful inheritance by scheduling a complimentary consultation today. Don’t delay, call Finn Legal Group now at (949) 237-2030 to learn more about how we can help.