Whatare your rights & obligations?
“Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.” Johann Kaspar Lavater
Often, when a beloved family member leaves us, relationships change. You may find that your beloved brother, sister, or cousin suddenly despises the ground you walk on. Sometimes, the family problems that have been festering for years boil to the surface at this moment. Other times, to the horror of everyone, it is a newly minted “friend” of the departed, who is now in control of all the money and property thanks to a secret change to a will, trust, or a deed, that is at the root of all strife. Regardless of how it happens, this leaves you and yours with only two choices: You must either give up your rightful share or you must fight to the end.
It is at this point that what was formerly a family discussion to be handled by a minister or an accountant becomes a lawsuit. Will contests, disputes over trust, and controversies surrounding deathbed deeds and conveyances are in essence a mixture of business litigation and nasty divorce. Here we enter the world of trials, depositions, and written discovery. With this comes the bad attitudes that we all strived so hard to avoid. When this happens, denial of this reality will only make it worse. You must accept the fact that, by their conduct, the other side has already made the choice for you. If you don’t want to concede, you will have to prepare for trial.
Howcan we help?
“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”– H. L. Mencken
We have handled will contests. Additionally, we believe that the combination of our experience in fraud cases, family disputes, business breakups, and litigation gives an advantage in will contests and estate disputes, because a will contest is often about these same subjects. In prior will contests, as well as family law practice, we have used and defended against the medical/psychological expert testimony of the type commonly associated with determining a testator’s competence to make a will or the presence of undue influence.
In re Estate of Shirley Conway, Deceased, In the Probate Court of Dallas County, Texas; Case No. 04-03811-P
Mr. Green was co-counsel for the Smith Family who contested a new will which their aunt, Shirley Conway, executed toward the end of her life. This new will virtually disinherited the Smith family, who had always been close to Shirley. Another branch of the family had carefully and methodically stepped in, taken over Shirley’s life and cut Shirley off from the Smith Family. This other branch of the family had their own law firm draft and execute a new will for Shirley. Of course, the new will gave virtually all of the property to the newcomers. After we were hired, we retained experts including a geriatric nurse and a cardiologist to help us prove that Shirley couldn’t possibly have known the nature and extent of her property, much less understand the ramifications of the changes she was making regarding who would inherit under her new will. Additionally, through investigation, we found an entire community of friends and neighbors who were close to Shirley in her later years and who were extremely articulate in describing the circumstances of her loss of agency. Many depositions were taken and discovery fights were had. Finally, before trial, a settlement was reached that essentially set aside the new will and distributed Shirley’s estate in a manner contemplated in the prior will.
In re Estate of Kenneth Michael Rice, In the County Court of Lubbock County, Texas; Case No. 2015-778,651.
Mr. Green represented Tim Rice, the Executor of the Rice Estate, which consisted of a variety of going businesses and business entities, along with a portfolio of lawsuits and claims, against the Estate. This case is still ongoing, although, over the past five years, virtually all of the issues in the case have been resolved.