Representing Estate Beneficiaries

Nashville Estate Attorneys

The execution of a decedent’s will is subject to strict statutory formalities. Failure to comply with such formalities can result in disputes between beneficiaries or the executor of the will. An inheritance dispute can arise for many reasons, including challenges over the will’s validity, disagreements over asset distribution, and disputes among family members regarding personal property. Beneficiaries can also challenge the executor of a will if they believe they are mismanaging the estate or not following the will’s intent.

When representing estate beneficiaries, we aim to protect your interests and ensure you receive a fair share of any inheritance. From gathering evidence and advocating on your behalf in court to negotiating with other beneficiaries and monitoring executor performance, you may need an attorney to protect your interests as a beneficiary to preserve your interests in an inheritance dispute.

Couple discovers problems making your own will

The Rights of an Estate Beneficiary in an Inheritance Dispute

An estate beneficiary is any party who will inherit a portion of a decedent’s assets. Beneficiaries often receive an inheritance as part of a will or if they’re a direct heir of the deceased in cases without a will.

As a beneficiary of an estate, you have certain rights that work to protect your interests.

You have the right to challenge the validity of a will if it meets the standards for filing a contest. The court will examine the circumstances surrounding the execution of the will to determine whether:

  • The decedent was in a diminished mental state when drafting their will.
  • A party used undue influence or excessive persuasion to convince the decedent to change their will.
  • The will was changed due to fraud or forgery.
  • The decedent wished to revoke a previous version of their will through the execution of a new will.

Any of these issues are grounds for challenging a will’s validity in court by filing a contest. In Tennessee, the statute of limitation for will contest cases requires beneficiaries to file a contest within two years of the date the will was admitted into probate court. Only named beneficiaries or parties eligible to inherit portions of an estate can contest a will’s validity under Tennessee state law.

For beneficiaries to capably execute their inheritance rights, they need to know the inventory of assets and to receive periodic updates on how the management of an estate is being administered. If an executor fails to satisfy a beneficiary’s request for information, they can work with a probate attorney to bring a claim against an executor to compel them to provide the requested information.

In cases where the will’s executor willfully ignores all reasonable requests or refuses to fulfill their duties capably, you can petition the court for their suspension or removal. For example, if the executor misused estate assets, made risky investments that undermined the health of the estate, or misappropriated estate funds, any of these reasons qualify as cause for their removal.

If you believe any assets in an estate have been improperly removed, sold, or tampered with, you may be able to file a claim with the probate court to recover the asset or receive financial compensation.

Instances where the decedent transferred or sold property below market value to a third party shortly before their passing or when an accounting of an estate’s inventory reveals missing items can be cause for trying to recoup the value of any lost inheritance. While the executor often handles these matters, you have the right to protect your interests by filing a claim independently with the assistance of an estate attorney.

Beneficiaries can immediately collect any asset listed as payable-on-death or transfer-on-death after the decedent’s passing without waiting for the asset to pass through probate first. These types of assets generally include bank accounts, annuities, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies.

Representing Estate and Trust Beneficiaries

An estate attorney works to protect your interests and helps ensure the estate management meets the decedent’s intent as laid out in their will.

Some specific tasks our probate attorneys at MHPS may be involved in when representing estate beneficiaries in an inheritance dispute include:

  • Reviewing the will and all other relevant legal documents to the estate to determine the beneficiary’s rights.
  • Investigating the facts surrounding a dispute, including whether the decedent was unduly influenced or capable of making rational decisions when drafting their will.
  • Identifying and assessing the value of an estate’s assets and determining how they should be distributed according to the terms of the will and applicable state laws.
  • Communicating and negotiating with other parties involved in the dispute, such as trustees, executors, or other beneficiaries, to negotiate a settlement or resolution.
  • Representing you in court, if required, and arguing your case before a judge and jury.

couple meets with wealth preservation attorney

irrevocable trust attorney

What are the Advantages of Hiring an Estate Attorney?

Representing estate beneficiaries in an inheritance dispute is a role filled by probate lawyers, offering several advantages over trying to represent your interests in court.

  • Legal expertise. Estate law is complicated, involving many aspects, including property law, probate, contract law, etc. Our attorneys at MHPS, who specialize in estate litigation, can provide the legal expertise and guidance you need to have your interests successfully protected.
  • Representation in court. If your inheritance dispute goes to court, experienced representation significantly determines whether your interests are maintained and if your entitled inheritance is received.
  • Dispute resolution. In some cases, it may be possible to negotiate a settlement that resolves an inheritance dispute without proceeding to court. Our attorneys will help you explore ways to settle your dispute, such as arbitration or mediation, which could present a less expensive and time-consuming option.

Our Team of Nashville Probate Lawyers Will Help to Protect Your Inheritance

At MHPS, we understand that the inheritance of an estate can cause emotions to run hot between loved ones. That’s why we remain committed to providing compassionate and effective representation to help you achieve a fair outcome during these times of confusion, heartbreak, and emotional stress. Whether you need assistance with probate administration, will contests, or other inheritance disputes, we are here to provide estate beneficiary representation that will guide you through the legal process and help protect the state of your inheritance.