Trusts & Estates

Overview

Trust and Estate Planning

Trust and Estate planning is a term that is all too often misunderstood and this can lead to needless heartache and complications for families. This is why you need an experienced trust and estate planning attorney as your partner and guide.

Some think that this type of legal planning is only for the wealthiest of Americans. Others underestimate this process in thinking that a simple Arizona will is all they need. However, planning for smaller estates is even more important in some ways then for larger estates. Your trust and estate planning attorney can customize your plan for your specific estate planning needs.

True estate planning is a process of assembling a number of important estate planning documents in order to create a coherent holistic plan. We refer to this as holistic estate planning.

Thinking about the future and determining how your assets will be divided when you die can be an emotional process. The team at Wright Law understands this and helps many clients face the reality that we can't live forever. Few areas of law are as sensitive and demanding as estate planning due to the long-reaching effects of the decisions an individual makes during his/her lifetime.

Our legal team exhibits the compassion and empathy you deserve, as well as the experience that is vital to guiding each of our valued clients through the estate planning process. We consider all aspects of a client's life — not only the assets he or she has accumulated. After all, it isn't just about the property you leave behind — it is about your emotional attachment to that property and what it will mean to your beneficiaries and heirs after you are gone. You need an attorney who will listen to you closely and guide you each step of the way. This process ensures that you will make the best decisions about wealth planning and preservation, including the contents of your will, trust and other necessary estate planning documents.


Trust and Estates Litigation

During probate, surviving family members and creditors may make legal challenges concerning the structure of a decedent’s will or trust and what they believe is their rightful share of an estate. This type of lawsuit is known as probate litigation.

Wright Law handles probate litigation, often on a contingency-fee basis, so you pay no up-front legal fees, and we are only paid if we successfully resolve your probate dispute.

Types of Disputes

Our litigation attorneys represent individuals who are owed inheritances under wills and trusts. We also represent beneficiaries in suits against trustees for mismanagement of assets and breaches of fiduciary duties. Some common types of probate litigation are described below.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

Trustees, guardians, and personal representatives of an estate are established under Arizona law as fiduciaries, and as such have legal duties to other estate beneficiaries. When a fiduciary fails to meet their duties and causes financial harm to beneficiaries, the beneficiaries can bring a probate litigation claim to recover money.

Breaches of fiduciary duty can include:

  • Violations of probate law
  • Stealing, self-dealing, or mismanaging estate assets
  • Excessive payments to trustees or personal representatives
  • Making improper investments
  • And More . . .

Elder Financial Exploitation and Power of Attorney Abuse

Towards the end of life, people can be highly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, especially if they have reduced mental faculties.

In some cases, a person in a position of trust—including a court-appointed guardian—takes, misappropriates, or misuses an elder’s personal assets through fraud, deception, or coercion (for example, they may convince the elderly person to give them money or forge a check).

In other cases, elder financial exploitation occurs in the context of a power of attorney, a document that delegates legal authority from one person to another. An elderly person may wish to grant a power of attorney to a trusted person who can handle their financial affairs. However, this authority can easily be abused through self-dealing, embezzlement, unlawful gifting, or other abuses of authority.

Financial exploitation of an elderly person can result in beneficiaries’ inheritance being squandered or heirs being cut out of a will completely. If you feel that a loved one currently is being financially exploited—or was prior to their death—a probate lawsuit may be appropriate.

Fraud, duress, or undue influence upon the decedent that results in a beneficiary not receiving their expected gift or bequest may be more appropriately resolved outside probate court, through a tort remedy known as tortious interference with an expectancy.

Will Contests

Suspected wrongdoing in connection with a will’s creation can lead to a will contest in probate court. The goal of this proceeding is to show that a will, or parts of it, are invalid, due to factors that include:

  • Lack of Mental Capacity
  • Undue Influence
  • Duress
  • Fraud
  • Insane Delusions
  • Lack of Proper Formalities

There is a very limited amount of time to contest a will’s validity in Arizona. So if you think that you have lost out on an inheritance due to an invalid will, contact us immediately.


How We Can Help

We have 30 years of combined experience in advanced estate planning strategies and litigation. To protect your assets as allowable by law; to reduce estate taxes, including discounted gifting strategies, weather transfer strategies and charitable giving strategies; and to use even more strategic estate planning tools, contact our office to speak with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney.

We can also help if you suspect wrongdoing or malfeasance. While we all prefer to avoid litigation, some times it is the only remaining backstop.

We’re Different

Being a small, full service law firm located in the Phoenix metropolitan area allows us to offer accessible, efficient and responsive legal counsel. Leveraging a uniquely Southwest approach, we strive to make the complex simple and to communicate clearly. We speak your language.


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News & Views

  • Article

    Medicaid's Look Back Period Explained

    Medicaid’s look-back period is meant to prevent Medicaid applicants from giving away assets or selling them under fair market value in an attempt to meet Medicaid’s asset limit.

    Roger A. Wright

Perspectives

  • Quotes

    As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected and if no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever.

    — Clarence Darrow (1857-1938)