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By: Scott Grossman on October 16th, 2016

How an Asset’s Titling Impacts Trust and Estate Litigation

After a loved one passes away, conflicts sometimes arise. How to handle these issues depends largely on how the asset’s titling impacts trust and estate litigation. Understanding the titling of assets is therefore crucial to determining how best to proceed.

How does an asset’s titling impacts trust and estate litigation? The following is an overview:

3 Ways an Asset’s Titling Impacts Trust and Estate Litigation

  1. The asset was held in the decedent’s name only. When this happens, the asset becomes part of the probate estate when the decedent dies. If the decedent had a will, the terms of the will control what happens with the asset. If you’re taking issue with the provisions in the will, you must file a will contest with the probate court to challenge its validity. Finally, if you are challenging whether or not a will existed, you must file a lawsuit with the court.
  2. The asset was held in joint tenancy with another party. Here, the asset passes from the decedent to the surviving joint tenant. The terms of your loved one’s will or trust have no bearing as to what happens with the asset. If you want to challenge this, you must file a lawsuit challenging the original setup of ownership of the asset, or bring a petition in your loved one’s probate estate to claim that it wasn’t the decedent’s intention to leave the asset to the surviving joint tenant. This action requires you prove your loved one didn’t intend for the asset to go to the surviving joint tenant by presenting evidence supporting that claim.
  3. The asset was held in a trust. Here, if you wish to challenge the distribution of the asset to another party, you must file a trust contest. A trust contest requires proof that either the trust wasn’t validly created or that a later amendment to the original trust was not valid. You may also need to file a petition for an accounting if you suspect a trustee is mismanaging trust assets.

The Takeaway

In many cases, you may have several different types of action to pursue, since each asset in a person’s estate may have been titled differently. As a result, you may need to file various petitions with the court in order to challenge the distributions. Failing to file the proper petitions with the proper court could be a costly mistake. Fortunately, we can help you navigate this process and protect your legal rights. We encourage you to learn more about how we have helped many previous clients obtain their rightful inheritance by checking out our client testimonials today.


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