What is Estate and Trust Litigation?

After a person dies, the estate must be dispersed in accordance with their desires and Alabama state law. However, it is common for loved ones to disagree about distribution of property or certain stipulations in the decedent’s will.

For example, when an heir is not bequeathed what he/she considers a fair share, or were totally cut-out of the will they may file a lawsuit. The beneficiaries may also have a concern about property management matters, such as financial investments or other decisions the fiduciary enacted. When the fiduciary is one of the beneficiaries, apprehension may arise concerning conflict of interest.

According to Hall Tanner Hargett (www.shoalslawyers.com), any of these scenarios could lead to long and contentious litigation. Good estate litigation attorneys are completely transparent and will walk you through the complicated process. You should get a clear understanding of what you can expect, potential resolutions before going to trial and risks vs. rewards of a court trial

Estate and trust litigation a.k.a. probate litigation is a specific field, which is ruled by both the Probate Code and general regulations of civil litigation. The various stages of probate litigation replicate phases of civil litigation: excepting in probate court pleadings are called “petitions” and “objections”, followed by normal discovery, motions, discussions about settlements and trial.

Again, in contrast with civil court, probate court is known as a “protective court” whose responsibility is to protect: beneficiaries of a trust, heirs and minors. Generally, the fiduciary is the sole party represented in probate court. In civil litigation there are two opposing parties or a plaintiff and defendant.

The probate court is charged to examine documents presented by the fiduciary to verify whether or not requests are appropriate. Dissimilar to civil cases where the court’s ruling is solely binding on participating parties in the litigation, orders of the probate court are binding on all parties, even when interested parties weren’t given notice.

Let’s clarify various legal terms that denote people who might seek estate and trust litigation:

Executor(s) or Executrix – Person who is appointed in will to carry out decedent’s wishes. Protects assets of estate. Pays bills, taxes, etc.

Administrator(s) – When an individual dies suddenly, without a will, the court will appoint administrator(s) to conclude the deceased person’s will. Often, administrators need legal representation to support their decisions.

Beneficiaries – These are persons indicated in the will to inherit the deceased individual’s estate or trust. By rights, beneficiaries should get the estate but difficulties can and do occur.

Trustees – They manage the estate until beneficiaries come of age.

Heirs – When heirs aren’t bestowed property in the will, legal entitlement issues can arise.

Fiduciary – Personal representative who is bound to act on another person’s behalf, i.e. trustee for beneficiary.

In Alabama, prior to probate, all interested parties are allowed to contest the will’s validity and the manner in which it has been managed. In the event the individual dies intestate (without a will) heirs of the estate can file. Provided the heir(s) has not previously contested the will they may file a formal complaint in the Alabama circuit court.

In Alabama, the surviving spouse will be awarded the total estate, in the event there are no living parents.

Mediation should be the first consideration in contested probate cases as a viable option, opposed to the more expensive, lengthy trust and estate litigation. The mediator acts as an objective third party who helps the beneficiaries reach a resolution. Most mediators are experienced probate attorneys or retired judges.

A majority of the time, mediation is successful; however, it customarily involves compromise. Although people may balk at the idea of compromise when it involves their principles, everyone generally gets more money, because they will not have to pay significant legal fees if the case does not go to trial.

But, what if mediation is unsuccessful? Your estate and trust lawyers would prepare your case for trial. First, they would take depositions from the opposite parties, finalize necessary court documents and execute pretrial motions. Again, experienced attorneys would explain each phase of the process and prepare you for questions that typically surface during this type trial.

Another service you should expect from good estate and trust attorneys is a careful accounting of their legal fees. Some fees can be paid by the trust, but others would be your responsibility.

Expert lawyers know how to assess the probability factors in probate litigation. They can give offer you fairly accurate guesstimates about best and worst outcome in court or suggest your interests would be better served by agreeing to compromise following mediation.

Deming 14 Points

The American industry transformed based upon the 14 points. It is not good enough just to deal with small or large issues. When management utilizes the 14 points, this means that they are serious about business operations, maintaining jobs and protecting their investors. This type of system was how the best managers in Japan learned about business back in the 1950s and later years.

These 14 points can be used for both big and small businesses in both the service and manufacturing industries. They are associated with divisions within the company.

The 14 Points

1 The goal is to commit to improve products and services, stay ahead of the competition, remain profitable and provide jobs.

2 Implement the new plan. This is a new time in our economic history. Companies are forced to make changes, adapt to different responsibilities and be willing to lead in order to make successful changes.

3 Do not rely on inspection in order to have quality products and services. Figure out how to get around doing large amounts of inspections by making it mandatory that quality is a part of the whole process.

4 Don’t make everything about money when it comes to business decisions. As an alternative reduce the total price. Instead of using multiple suppliers over a long period of time, build up a relationship with one loyal vendor.

5 Always look for ways to make your products better and improve productivity, which should reduce your overall costs.

6 Start on the job training.

7 Make leadership a priority. (see Point 12 and Chapter 8). Management should commit to ensuring that its assets do a good job. Both management and production workers need better supervision.

8 Get rid of fear on all levels of the business, so that everybody can produce successful results. (look at Chapter 3).

9 Get rid of the issues that alienate departments from one another. Everyone in different departments much learn to work together so that production goes smoothly and the product gets out

10 Stop using inflated slogans when talking to employees about improving productivity. That type of bogus pep talk only makes workers upset because they cannot change whatever system management creates. Get rid of quotas. Try leading the masses. Get rid of management by objective. Get rid of managing based upon numeric goals. Use leadership instead.

11 Get rid of the things that make it hard for front line people to be proud of their work. Supervisors have to concentrate on quality and not just on numeric goals.

12 Get rid of the things that make it hard for management to be proud of their work efforts. This means getting rid of things such as annual merit ratings. (look at chapter 3).

13 Start a fast paced program that provides education and self improvement.

14 Make sure that all levels of employees make these changes. It is necessary for everyone to change.

Using CDR for Legal Data Back-Up-Blog

If you work in a law firm, you cannot underestimate the need for data protection for your business records. Sure, you can protect the vital records of your law firm, and those of your clients, with just external hard drives or even basic tapes, yet those old-fashioned options simply fail to offer a backup option that is satisfactory for your current needs. When thinking about back up choices, you should definitely go with the CDR option. There are blank CDS you can purchase cheap from many stores.

The following are a few pieces of advice when it comes to establishing a reliable back up strategy for your legal purposes.

The number one thing you should keep in mind is that your backup files must be encrypted, whether they are going to go on CDR or not. When you encrypt your files, you guarantee privacy. Further, when you pick a backup vendor, you must ensure that the vendor has at least 2 geographically different facilities at least 100 miles apart from each other. Other significant things to look for in your vendor are certifications such as, for instance, SAS 70 Type II. Such a certification will tell you that the vendor has satisfied requirements from a 3rd-party certification authority.

If you have been updating your law firm files on a manual schedule, you must think hard about switching over to an automated one with updates that are regular. This will allow your data backups to happen on a consistent basis, thereby heightening security for your law firm and its very important files. This also includes the requirement to confirm if activities have really taken place as you think they have, and you have to be notified if issues do occur at your site.