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What Is Probate Estate Litigation?

Probate estate litigation is the process of settling disputes or disagreements during a probate proceeding. Probate occurs to identify, manage, and distribute a deceased person’s assets to their heirs, beneficiaries, and potential creditors.

Disputes during the probate process can often lead to litigation. Common disputes include challenges to a will’s validity, disputes over the distribution of assets to beneficiaries, concerns of undue influence during the will’s creation, and more. A probate estate litigation attorney can help clients navigate disputes and important legal processes.

Why Do You Need a Probate Estate Litigation Attorney?

Probate estate litigation can be a complex process with different circumstances and varying potential outcomes, making it difficult to navigate the process alone and providing several possibilities for a dispute to arise. A probate estate litigation attorney offers legal expertise to help while protecting your rights. We’ll ensure that the process operates under the necessary legal requirements and facilitate a fair distribution of assets.

Diminished Or Lack Of Testamentary Capacity

A will must be executed by a testator with testamentary capacity—meaning someone with appropriate cognitive awareness of the consequences of their decisions. Otherwise, they risk jeopardizing the intentions of the deceased. RMO Lawyers can support clients in establishing claims of diminished testamentary capacity by gathering medical records, witness statements, and expert opinions.

Undue Influence

Undue includes actions like coercion, manipulation, or pressure exerted on a trustee. Proving undue influence requires gathering evidence like witness statements, documentary evidence, and expert testimony. Our probate litigation attorneys can help clients identify signs of undue influence, establish a case against it, and rectify potential wrongdoing.


Fraudulent activity can override the intentions and wishes of the deceased person. It’s crucial to gather evidence that fraudulent activity exists, like documents, communication records, and witness statements that demonstrate fraudulent behavior. Our lawyers can guide you in the process of contesting fraud to protect you in receiving your rightful inheritance and outlined assets.


In extreme cases, people may use forgery to alter a will and exploit a person’s assets, requiring detailed forensic document examination and other investigative methods. RMO Lawyers can support clients in establishing the illegitimacy of a will through the discovery and presentation of compelling evidence.


Errors can misrepresent the intentions of a will. These can include ambiguous language, procedural mistakes, and inaccurately named beneficiaries. A probate estate litigation attorney can help clients correct these errors, draft codicils to modify a will, contest a will, or ensure a fair distribution of the estate, depending on the circumstances, all with the goal of preserving the wishes of the deceased.


Common Probate Estate Litigation Disputes

Due to the complexity of the probate process, disputes and disagreements can be common. From navigating will contests to intestate succession disputes, there are many cases where representation may be helpful. At RMO Lawyers, we support clients in all the following dispute areas and more.

Will Contests

In some cases, circumstances may arise where a party wants to challenge a will’s validity or legitimacy. These circumstances may include a lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, fraud, or improper execution.

Our attorneys can assist you in initiating a will contest by establishing legal grounds for a contest and filing a formal petition. Whether you are hoping to validate, invalidate, or appeal a will, RMO Lawyers can help.

Probate Administration Disputes

Probate administration disputes can entail disagreements between heirs, disputes over the valuation of assets, and challenges to the appointment of an executor or administrator. Our probate litigation attorneys can help resolve these disputes to provide our clients with the best possible outcome.

Estate Creditor Claims

Creditors are any party to whom a deceased individual owed money at the time of their death. Debts to creditors are often paid directly out of the estate. Creditor claims can include debts like credit card debts, mortgages, and unpaid taxes. Our team of probate attorneys can provide support in resolving disputes over creditor claims and either challenging or validating these claims.

Fiduciary Duty Litigation

Trustees and executors have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the estate and manage assets carefully with proper records. Common breaches of fiduciary duty by executors and trustees include mismanagement of assets, inadequate communication, or using assets for personal gain. Our probate litigation attorneys can both support beneficiaries in establishing claims of breach of fiduciary duty and defend executors against invalid claims.

Intestate Succession Disputes

In cases where the deceased party passed away without a will, assets must be distributed by the state to the appropriate beneficiaries. This process can lead to challenges from heirs regarding the fair distribution of assets and other disputes like creditor claims. Intestate succession laws can also vary by jurisdiction, leading to a lack of clarity in the process. Our attorneys can provide guidance and help clients navigate potential disputes.

Accounting and Asset Distribution Disputes

Accounting and asset distribution disputes can arise due to poor record keeping or mismanagement of assets by the executor. Questions may also arise regarding the valuation of assets or the validity of creditor or beneficiary claims. A probate litigator can help address discrepancies, resolve disputes, and ensure fair and accurate distribution of assets.

Estate Litigation Appeals

If an individual disagrees with the decision made by a probate court, they can file an appeal under appropriate grounds, such as legal or procedural errors or abuse of discretion. An appeal can result in an affirmation of the previous decision, a reversal of the decision, or a remand for further proceedings. A probate estate litigator can assist clients in navigating the appeals process and appellate courts.

Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution

It’s often possible to resolve probate litigation disputes in other methods than lengthy court battles. An agreement between parties outside of court can save time and further legal fees while promoting a compromise that all sides can agree with. Our probate estate litigators can help facilitate a mediation process or other dispute resolution methods to resolve conflicts outside of the courtroom.


When Should I Contact A Probate Estate Litigation Attorney?

There are a variety of circumstances where you should contact a probate estate litigation attorney. An attorney can simplify the process and ensure you have a full understanding of the appropriate legal steps. Other benefits of legal representation include the protection of your rights and interests, an efficient resolution of disputes, and a minimization of family conflicts.

You should contact a probate and estate litigation attorney in the following circumstances:

  • The presence of disputes among heirs or beneficiaries
  • Allegations of undue influence or fraud
  • Executor or administrator misconduct, including breach of fiduciary duty or mismanagement of assets
  • Challenges to the validity of the will, including lack of capacity or improper interpretation of the will

Ultimately, if you have concerns regarding the probate process, it’s a good idea to seek the support of a probation attorney and schedule a consultation. Taking immediate action will help you get the most out of the process, ensure that you act within the statute of limitations surrounding your concern, and minimize stress with support from a skilled probate estate litigation attorney.

Our Case Results

RMO has a proven track record of protecting people and defending legacies.

Mom’s House and Legacy Saved from Foreclosure
Prevented foreclosure of mom’s house - the estate’s only significant asset - by securing ex parte appointment as Special Administrator and then obtaining a temporary restraining order preventing the home’s foreclosure so the property could be sold, securing mom’s legacy for her children and grandchildren.
Family Jewels Recovered
On behalf of a professional fiduciary, convinced the probate court to award our client double damages, attorney’s fees and costs in addition to recovery of significant personal property wrongfully taken from - and refused to be returned to - the estate.
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Who Can Hire A Probate Estate Litigator?

Probate estate litigation involves several interested parties, from beneficiaries and heirs to the administrators of the process. RMO probate estate litigation attorneys support clients on multiple sides of the probate process in resolving disputes during probate and ensuring a fair distribution of assets under the appropriate legal processes.


Administrators are responsible for distributing assets according to the guidelines of a will and the direction of an executor. Our probate and estate litigation lawyers support administrators in navigating this process while remaining in alignment with their legal responsibilities. Administrators may also face challenges for removal or suspension. We can help build an appropriate defense against improper claims.


Executors have a responsibility to ensure their actions remain aligned with legal requirements and uphold their fiduciary duty during asset distribution. Duties include proper communication with all parties, fair distribution, debt settlement, and adherence to the will. Executors may also have to navigate will contests and heir disputes. Our attorneys can provide executors with legal guidance to ensure a fair process and offer protection against challenges to their actions.


Heirs and beneficiaries have a direct interest in the distribution of the decedent’s assets. Our probate estate litigation attorneys support heirs and beneficiaries in several areas to advise them of their rights and ensure they receive the best possible outcome for their case. We can assist in contesting a will, resolving disputes among heirs, and ensuring a fair distribution of assets.


Creditors are any party to whom a decedent owed money at the time of their death. Under most state laws, many creditors must act within a specified amount of time to assert their claims to a debt. Creditors must submit a claim and navigate a careful process for debt collection. We can provide guidance and representation in probate court to ensure fair treatment among creditors and promote the proper distribution of assets under the estate.


If you are a conservator or guardian and your conservatee or ward passed, you may need legal representation to resolve potential disputes between you and the executor, administrator, or beneficiaries. In some cases, you may need to litigate on behalf of the conservatee if their assets were compromised by another party. 

Our probate litigation lawyers will help you navigate potential complexities depending on the type of conservatorship. This can include assisting you in resolving disputes and distributing assets surrounding the incapacitated person’s estate.


Spouses have a unique status under many state probate laws, giving them special inheritance rights and benefits. They also must follow detailed legal procedures to protect these benefits. However, spouses may be subject to challenges like probate disputes with other heirs or beneficiaries where representation would be helpful. 

RMO Lawyers support spouses in navigating probate estate litigation by providing representation in court for disputes over marital property, elective share, and inheritance rights.


Be advised that the RMO Client Relations Team will reach out prior to your scheduled time, as our policy requires that we gather additional information concerning the parties to your case before we can confirm your consultation. In the event that we are unable to reach you, regrettably, we will need to cancel your requested consultation.

Communication Disclaimer

Please note that communications by you to RMO LLP or any of its lawyers through this website do not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the firm. Do not send any privileged or confidential information to the firm through this website or otherwise until instructed in writing from us to do so. 

Learn More

What Probate Disputes Do Appellate Courts Review?

After someone passes away, the probate court is the venue where their estate is settled, and their will is verified and executed. During this process, there are many different types of decisions the judge must make. If you believe that a decision the probate court made was erroneous, you may be able to file an appeal in the superior court in the same jurisdiction where the probate order was issued. However, under California law, only certain orders can be appealed.

What Happens If You Lose a Probate Court Appeal?

The probate court is a court that handles the administration and distribution of assets to beneficiaries when someone dies, among other matters. If you are unhappy with a probate court decision, it is possible to appeal that decision under certain circumstances, and if you win, the order will be overturned. However, if you lose your appeal, the probate court decision will remain intact, and you will need to decide if you want to appeal to an even higher court.



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