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By: Scott Grossman on August 5th, 2016

How an Estate Can Be Caught in a Lawsuit

When most people hear about a lawsuit involving an estate, they automatically think of issues amongst beneficiaries or heirs, often over an inheritance. Unfortunately, however, estates can become involved with litigation for many different reasons. In some cases, estates themselves may actually be made a party to a suit.

4 Ways an Estate May be Made Party to a Lawsuit

An estate can be made a party to a lawsuit if any of the following files a claim involving the estate:

  1. A beneficiary. For example, if a beneficiary thinks that the expenses and costs of administering an estate are unreasonably high, the beneficiary may sue the estate or the executor.
  2. Creditors. When a person dies with outstanding debts, those debts are not always automatically extinguished. Creditors may sue the estate for the outstanding amounts owed to them. Similarly, if the executor incurs debts on behalf of the estate during administration, these creditors may also pursue a lawsuit if they remain unpaid.
  3. An ongoing case against the decedent at the time that he or she died. When this happens, the estate cannot be completely settled until the ongoing claims have been resolved. Further, the decedent can be sued if his death created a claim for that person. An example would be if the decedent died in a car accident that he caused, which also resulted in injuries or property damage to another person. In this situation, the lawsuit against the decedent is brought against the estate.
  4. The estate itself. Estates can bring lawsuits in the same manner as an individual person can. A recent and popular example involves the estate of Michael Jackson. His estate has pursued lawsuits over the selling of his likeness without first obtaining the estate’s permission.

If you are in charge of administering an estate with litigation pending, it is important to seek legal guidance from a knowledgeable legal professional. We encourage you to contact us today!

Related Links

Stages of Trust Litigation
Starting a Trust Contest
Missed Deadlines and Trust and Estate Lawsuits