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American writer Ambrose Bierce once humorously said, “Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate.” At Carolina Estate Planning, we strive to resolve any conflicts that can happen during the estate administration process without going to court. But sometimes, a problem comes up that needs the assistance of a trained fiduciary litigation attorney to fix it. 

Defining Fiduciary Litigation

Fiduciary litigation happens when there are disputes involving people in fiduciary roles. A fiduciary is someone entrusted to act in the best interests of another person, often called the principal or beneficiary. This relationship is characterized by the highest standard of care, loyalty, and good faith. Fiduciaries can include trustees, executors, agents under a power of attorney, and others who manage the affairs or assets for someone else. Litigation, in general, means resolving disputes through the court system. It includes presenting evidence, legal arguments, and examining issues for a judge or jury to make a decision. Litigation can involve trials, hearings, motions, and negotiations, depending on the nature of the dispute.

How We Help

At Carolina Estate Planning, we put the law to work to get the best possible outcome for our clients. Fiduciary litigation in North Carolina involves complex legal processes and challenges. Some common legal situations we assist with include Will Caveats, Undue Influence, Power of Attorney Abuse, Spousal Elective Share Proceedings, and Partition Action.

Will Caveats:

A will caveat is a challenge to the validity of a will. It happens when people think the will doesn’t show the true intentions of the person who passed away. Challenges can be based on fraud, lack of mental competency (called “testamentary capacity”), or undue influence.

Undue Influence:

“Undue influence” refers to a situation where someone pressures another person too much, making them act against their own interests. It’s often used to manipulate someone into making a decision that benefits the influencing person. As our country’s population ages, this has become an important issue. Undue influence plays a significant role in estate litigation, particularly in the context of fiduciary disputes. External pressures or coercion may have affected the testator’s decisions regarding the distribution of their estate. 

Power of Attorney Abuse:

Power of attorney abuse often involves financial exploitation or mismanagement of assets. This is a growing concern in fiduciary litigation, leading to the enactment of the North Carolina Uniform Power of Attorney Act in 2017. Under the Act, agents appointed through a power of attorney are held to a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the principal. 

Elective Shares:

In North Carolina spousal elective share proceedings, the law ensures surviving spouses get a fair share of the deceased spouse’s estate. In cases where a surviving spouse believes the will inadequately provides for them, they may elect against it and claim a statutory share. Navigating spousal elective share proceedings involves a careful review of the marital history, the provisions of the will, and the assets comprising the estate. Our attorneys carefully consider the specific requirements and limitations outlined in North Carolina law to determine the eligibility and entitlement of the surviving spouse.

Partition Action:

After a loved one passes away, sometimes more than one person can inherit a house or land together. These beneficiaries may have never intended to co-own the house or land. One beneficiary may want to sell and the other does not. When these co-owners face insurmountable disagreements, a partition action may be initiated. Governed by North Carolina law, this legal remedy allows for the division or sale of the house or land to resolve co-ownership disputes. Partition actions involve a detailed process, including petitions to the court, property valuation, and a determination of the appropriate method of division or sale. Our attorneys work to achieve a fair resolution, allowing co-owners to sever ties to jointly owned houses or land.

Contact Carolina Estate Planning for Help with Fiduciary Litigation Today

We welcome you to reach out to us to learn more about how we can help with your fiduciary litigation case. You can call us now at 336-790-5107 or visit our contact page to begin our simple intake process. We approach every case with a comprehensive grasp of fiduciary principles and extensive litigation experience. In this way, we will work to ensure justice is served within the intricate landscape of fiduciary litigation.

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