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Probate Litigation Attorney Serving Kansas City, Missouri

Going through the process of probate in Kansas and Missouri is complicated enough on its own when everything goes as planned, but if you face probate litigation you’ll have a much harder and lengthy process to deal with. It’s in these cases that the individual in the executor or administrator role will want to work with a qualified and experienced probate attorney to ensure all claims are handled in accordance with the law and to minimize the negative effects it has on the estate and your responsibilities.  

For those in Kansas City, and the surrounding metropolitan areas including Overland Park, Lee's Summit, Independence, and Kansas City, Kansas, call us at The Probate Law Center for trusted legal guidance.  

Probate in Kansas & Missouri

Our attorney at The Probate Law Center is able to represent clients in both Missouri and Kansas and has extensive knowledge of probate law in both states. Because each state differs slightly in its laws, there are certain things that will need to be taken into account.  

For example, there may be exemptions that certain estates are eligible for in one state that aren't available in the other. Also, the approach your lawyer takes to address any litigation will also differ based on the state in which the probate administration is taking place.   

Fighting for What Matters Most


Common Reasons for Probate Litigation

There are several reasons why you might be facing probate litigation. Some of the most common reasons are listed below:

  1. Will Contests: Disputes over the validity of a will are among the most common probate litigation cases. Parties may challenge a will based on various grounds, including lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, fraud, or improper execution of the will.

  2. Estate Disputes: Sometimes when one individual applies to be the administrator or personal representative of an estate, there may be reasons why another family member does not believe it is in the best interest of the estate; or there may be specific family issues - like paternity - that may cause on person to challenge another individual for appointment as administrator or personal representative.

  3. Trust Disputes: Trust-related disputes may involve challenges to the validity of a trust, interpretation of trust provisions, or allegations of mismanagement or breach of fiduciary duty by the trustee.

  4. Fiduciary Litigation: Executors, administrators, and trustees have fiduciary duties to the estate or trust they manage, and beneficiaries may bring legal actions against them for alleged breaches of these duties. Such litigation may involve claims of mismanagement of assets, self-dealing, or failure to account for or distribute assets properly.

  5. Guardianship and Conservatorship Disputes: These disputes involve the appointment, management, or removal of guardians or conservators for minors or incapacitated adults. Issues may include disagreements over the choice of guardian or conservator, allegations of mismanagement or abuse, or petitions to modify or terminate the guardianship or conservatorship.

  6. Claims Against the Estate: Creditors may file claims against an estate to collect debts owed by the deceased. Disputes can arise over the validity or amount of these claims, as well as the priority of payment among competing creditors.

  7. Determination of Heirship: When a person dies without a will, disputes may arise over the identity of their rightful heirs or the distribution of their assets according to Missouri's intestate succession laws.

  8. Spousal Elective Share: A surviving spouse in Missouri has the right to claim an elective share of their deceased spouse's estate, which may lead to disputes over the amount or validity of the elective share claim.

  9. Estate or Trust Accountings: Disputes may arise when beneficiaries or other interested parties request an accounting of the assets, income, and expenses of an estate or trust. Issues may involve the accuracy or completeness of the accounting, the allocation of assets, or the payment of fees and expenses.

  10. Real Property Disputes: Probate litigation can involve disputes over real property owned by the deceased, including disagreements over the ownership, valuation, or distribution of real property interests.

  11. Interference with Inheritance: In some cases, parties may claim that another person interfered with their expected inheritance through improper actions such as undue influence, fraud, or duress. Although this is not a direct probate issue, it may be related to the probate process and require litigation to resolve.

Because these issues can become complex, it’s usually best to hire a reputable probate attorney who can thoroughly evaluate your case and advise you based on their findings.  

Probate Litigation Process

Prior to engaging in probate litigation (also known as fiduciary litigation), one must have standing to sue, meaning that a potential plaintiff must determine whether they have a direct, pecuniary interest in the outcome of the dispute. Once an attorney determines the individual to have 'standing', the process is generally as follows:

  • Investigation and fact-gathering: Prior to initiating litigation, parties typically investigate the facts and gather relevant evidence. This may involve reviewing estate planning documents, financial records, and correspondence, as well as interviewing potential witnesses.

  • Filing the petition or complaint: The party initiating the litigation (the plaintiff) files a petition or complaint with the probate court, outlining the legal grounds for the dispute and the relief sought. The document must be served on all interested parties, including the personal representative of the estate and other beneficiaries.

  • Answer and responses: The defendant(s) must file an answer or other response to the plaintiff's petition or complaint, admitting or denying the allegations and asserting any defenses or counterclaims.

  • Discovery: During the discovery phase, both parties exchange information relevant to the dispute. This may include written interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and depositions of witnesses. Discovery helps each party build their case and assess the strengths and weaknesses of their opponent's claims.

  • Pre-trial motions: Either party may file pre-trial motions to resolve certain issues before trial, such as motions for summary judgment, motions to dismiss, or motions to compel discovery.

  • Mediation or settlement negotiations: Many probate disputes are resolved through negotiation or mediation before reaching trial. Parties may attempt to reach a settlement or participate in court-ordered or voluntary mediation to find a mutually acceptable resolution.

  • Trial: If the parties cannot resolve the dispute through negotiation or mediation, the case proceeds to trial. The trial may be heard by a judge (bench trial) or a jury, depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the dispute. Both parties present their evidence and arguments, and the judge or jury makes a decision on the case.

  • Post-trial motions and appeals: After the trial, either party may have the ability to file post-trial motions to request the court to reconsider or modify its decision. If a party is dissatisfied with the trial court's decision, they may appeal the judgment to a higher court.

  • Enforcement or collection: If a party prevails in the litigation and is awarded a judgment, they may need to take steps to enforce the judgment or collect any monetary damages awarded.

    Probate litigation can be complex, and the specific steps and procedures may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the dispute. It is essential to consult with reputable probate attorney to navigate the process and protect your interests effectively.

Probate Litigation Attorney Serving Kansas City, Missouri  

If you’re involved in probate litigation or fear that someone may try to contest an action you've taken in your fiduciary capacity, call us at The Probate Law Center in Kansas City, Missouri to schedule a consultation. These matters need to be handled by a professional, and the earlier you address them, the better. Reach out today to get started.