Common forms of probate litigation

When a person passes away, his or her assets must be distributed. Probate is the mechanism by which this occurs. Usually, a will spells out the wishes of the decedent, directing which family members, friends and other heirs will receive which assets.

Most of the time, these instructions are clear and the process proceeds without a hitch. However, in some cases, disputes arise and this can trigger a litigation process. A probate litigation attorney may be retained to represent beneficiaries as they attempt to sort through an equitable distribution solution. This can be relatively easy to do, but occasionally, things can become combative and drawn out.

A probate litigation attorney may work on several different aspects of a probate estate. Some of the specific types of issues may include:

Mistakes in a will. A will is a legal document and must be written a certain way for it to be valid. If it fails on certain tests, it can be contested and will have to be reviewed by a judge.

Undue influence. If one or more of the heirs believes that another person swayed a decedent into dividing an estate a certain way, they may challenge the validity of the distribution and seek to have the assets of the estate distributed in accordance with the decedent’s true wishes.

Mental capacity. An attorney may challenge the validity of a will if an heir or beneficiary believes that the decedent lacked the mental capacity to make sound judgments about how their assets should be divided.

Breach of fiduciary duties. A fiduciary is someone who fulfills the requirements of a will. If they don’t act in accordance with the instructions in the will, probate litigation can be filed to either have the fiduciary removed or to have them correct their actions.

RMO LLP provides personal and efficient inheritance dispute services to individual and institutional clients. The firm’s attorneys focus on probate litigation involving contested trust, estate, probate, and conservatorship matters. Serving California and Texas, with offices in Los Angeles, Pasadena, Orange County, San Diego, Fresno, the Bay Area, Dallas, and Houston. For more information, please visit

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About the Author

Scott Rahn, Founding Partner

Scott Rahn resolves contests, disputes and litigation related to trusts, estates and conservatorships, creating a welcome peace of mind for clients. He represents heirs, beneficiaries, trustees and executors. He utilizes his experience to develop and implement strategies that swiftly and efficiently address the financial issues, fiduciary duties and emotional complexities underlying trust contests, estates conflicts and probate litigation.

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