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By: Scott Grossman on August 27th, 2016

Common Misconceptions Leading To Estate Litigation


For most people, ensuring that their assets pass to their chosen recipients in a smooth and efficient matter is an important goal. Unfortunately, few people are familiar with the many technical rules and procedures associated with the passing of assets upon a person’s death. As a result, it is easy for mistakes to be made, creating unintended consequences. These consequences may then lead to a lawsuit as the decedent’s loved ones fight over the assets left behind.

4 Mistakes that Can Lead to a Court Battle During Estate Administration

The following are four examples of issues that can lead to trust or estate litigation after a person’s passing:

  1. Joint tenancy. A parent’s assets were held jointly with one child in order to avoid the need for probate administration or to give someone quick and easy access in the event of death or incapacity. Unfortunately, doing this means that the child who was listed as a co-owner of the asset has full ownership and control when the parent dies. The child has no obligation to share the asset with his or her siblings or other loved ones. In addition, there are other issues that can arise as a result of an asset held in joint tenancy.
  2. Automatic inheritance. The decedent left assets to certain people under his or her will, but those assets passed to someone else automatically upon the decedent’s death. As a result, the intended recipients are left with little or nothing. This can happen if the asset in question was held in a joint tenancy, if a beneficiary was named, if it was held in trust, or if the asset was a pay-on-death or transfer-on-death account.
  3. Incomplete trusts. The decedent created a trust designed to leave his or her assets to certain loved ones, but never moved any assets into the trust. This means that the decedent’s assets become part of his or her estate upon death. Unless the decedent also had a will that stated the estate assets should be moved into the trust, the beneficiaries of the trust have nothing to inherit.
  4. Divorce. The decedent named a former spouse as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy and did not update the beneficiary designation following divorce. In California, a divorce does not automatically impact the beneficiary designations of a life insurance policy.

If you have lost a loved one and feel you are being denied the inheritance that was intended for you, it is possible that you may have legal rights. Fortunately, we can help. We encourage you to contact us today at (888) 443-6590 for more information.


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The Grossman Law Firm, APC (951) 523-8307