West Virginia Estate Litigation Lawyers
Work With a Trusted & Proven Team of Trial Lawyers During Estate Disputes in Charleston, Lewisburg, Beckley & Throughout West Virginia
Disputes can often arise among heirs, beneficiaries, fiduciaries, and other interested parties involving wills, trusts, and other estate matters. Unfortunately, this can happen even with well-crafted estate plans and, when they occur, can give rise to heated conflicts that require intervention from the courts. While litigation should be avoided if possible, sometimes it cannot be managed which is when you will need the services of an astute and experienced litigation lawyer.
Wooton, Davis, Hussell & Johnson, PLLC is a leading trust and estate firm in West Virginia. Each of our attorneys adds his or her own unique resources, creativity, and skills to a firm that prides itself on strong, reliable, and productive representation in the preparation of estate planning documents and in the successful resolution of probate and trust administration disputes. We represent individuals, corporations, and other business organizations, including non-profits. Because we both prosecute and defend claims and represent both beneficiaries and fiduciaries, our attorneys regularly view disputes from a variety of perspectives that can work to your benefit.
Estate Litigation Issues in West Virginia
Disputing a will, trust, or other estate matter can be a challenging, complex, and stressful matter whether you are contesting the estate or defending against a lawsuit. Will contests generally seek to challenge the admittance of the will to probate or revoke it while it is still pending. These are more common than trust administration contests. However, challenging the terms of a trust can also occur though are generally more difficult. We work with beneficiaries, heirs, trustees, executors, as well as with other individuals or businesses that may have a fiduciary duty to the estate.
Will, trust, and other estate matter disputes can be based on a variety of issues including but not limited to the following:
- The will-maker or trust-maker lacked “capacity.” This means that he or she was mentally incompetent or impaired at the time the document was made which could render it void. This is usually because of such conditions as dementia, Alzheimer’s, or some other mental disease.
- “Undue influence” was exerted over the originator of the will or trust. He or she was coerced by an adult child, relative, friend, caretaker, or other individual to basically favor the coercer as opposed to other deserving heirs or beneficiaries.
- The will or trust was improperly executed. This means it was not drafted, signed, or witnessed according to applicable laws.
- Breach of fiduciary duty. A fiduciary in a will or trust is obligated to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. Where this is violated, he or she may become the subject of a claim or lawsuit based on alleged wrongdoing.
- Spousal elective share. Instead of abiding by the terms of the will, a surviving spouse in West Virginia can exercise certain rights that allow an “elective share” of the estate based on the duration of the marriage.
- Document forgery. If it is suspected that a will or trust document or its signatures have been forged, this will lead to a legal claim or lawsuit.
- Fraud. Misrepresentation, forgeries, improper trustee or executor management and accounting, and other fraudulent actions in the matter of estates can occur in many contexts. These can range from executor fees to administrator appointments, will contests, guardianships, elective share, agents authorized under Powers of Attorney, and more.
- Real property sales and purchases.
- Success issues.
At Wooton, Davis, Hussell & Johnson, PLLC, we have routinely encountered and handled probate and trust disputes of all types. We have litigated countless will contests, trust contests, claims of fiduciary mismanagement and breach of trust and fiduciary duty, questions of intestate (dying without a will) succession, probate and trust accountings, guardianship proceedings, and the many other issues that can arise upon a person’s death and distribution of assets.
Our Credentials & Experience in Estate Litigation
Beyond the representation of individual and corporate clients, our attorneys are frequently involved in advancing issues of probate and trust law. We have actively served in the American College of Trust & Estate Counsel (ACTEC), the Probate Committee of the West Virginia State Bar, the Charleston Estate Planning Council, and the Real Property, Probate, & Trust Section of the American Bar Association. We regularly make presentations to attorneys, trustees, and accountants locally, state-wide, and throughout the country. We have published extensively, including the “Wills” chapter of the West Virginia Practice Handbook.
Regardless of the complexity of your estate litigation issue, our team brings an abundance of knowledge, insight, and experience to your case. We urge you to discuss your legal issue with one of our well-respected West Virginia estate litigation attorneys to learn more about your legal position, your options, and what to expect in resolving it effectively.