Irvine Probate Litigation Lawyers
Experienced Guidance in Orange County
Probate matters are complicated. There is no getting around that. Even most estate planning attorneys will not attempt to litigate complex probate disputes. Rather, they refer those cases to us, because they know that our practice is focused on trust/probate litigation, and Mr. Kirk is a certified experienced specialist in trust and probate litigation. All of our litigators are trained in, and practice exclusively in, this area of the law. We stand at the ready to use our expertise and specialization to provide assistance for clients in need of these types of services.
Representing Executors, Administrators, Personal Representatives and Trustees
The person in charge of an estate is referred to as an executor (if there is a Will) or an administrator (if there is no Will). A generic term for both an executor and administrator is a “personal representative.” A person in charge of a Trust is called a Trustee. All of these individuals are “fiduciaries” – meaning that they are responsible for managing someone else’s assets.
At Bradley R. Kirk & Associates, Inc., we represent both personal representatives and trustees. In the law, these persons have the obligation to vigorously defend the assets of an estate, but they can also be personally liable for losses to the estate. That’s right. The personal assets of a fiduciary can be seized by the Court if the fiduciary is found to have breached their fiduciary duties and/or have not strictly followed all of California’s Trust/Probate laws.
Beneficiaries of an estate can be very problematic for fiduciaries if the beneficiary believes that they are being shortchanged or that the decedent did not treat them fairly in the Will/Trust. Fiduciaries are often the scapegoats for these disgruntled beneficiaries. We represent fiduciaries who are being sued for alleged misconduct or who are otherwise caught up in estate litigation. It is imperative that fiduciaries mount a strong and effective defense because they can be held personally liable if things go badly.
For these reasons, personal representatives need competent and aggressive legal representation to ensure that their rights are protected and that they faithfully carry out their duties to defend and manage the estate assets. We are specialists in assisting our clients in navigating through the complex web of California’s Probate laws and requirements. Trustees should also know that they usually have the right to use Trust estate assets to pay their attorneys to defend themselves.
Incompetent and corrupt personal representatives do exist. There are several situations when beneficiaries need an assertive and effective litigator to take aggressive action to ensure that their rights are asserted.
Our legal team represents beneficiaries who find themselves in one or more of the following scenarios:
- A beneficiary is being treated unfairly
- A fiduciary is not doing their job
- A corrupt fiduciary is stealing funds from the estate
People may not realize it, but fiduciaries are often given unlimited access to, and authority over, estate assets. If the fiduciary steals money, that money may be very difficult to recover. If a fiduciary mismanages the estate resulting in losses, the remedy is to sue. However, once the money is gone, it is gone, and it is often difficult to recover. In certain circumstances, a trust/probate litigator can freeze estate assets to ensure that they are preserved for the beneficiary until it comes time for distribution.
Some fiduciaries are not corrupt, but they simply do not do their job well. They invest estate funds improperly or fail to invest them at all. They sometimes refuse to do any work on the estate and just let it languish in the Courts. They often simply refuse to give any type of accounting for their actions. The Courts have insufficient resources to actively monitor fiduciaries who refuse to move the estate along. The law provides beneficiaries with rights under these circumstances, but in order to protect these rights, beneficiaries must hire an experienced attorney to take action in Court against the negligent or non-responsive fiduciary. We have extensive experience in ensuring that personal representatives are either compelled by the Court to do their job effectively and timely, or are suspended and/or removed so that a competent fiduciary can take their place.
Contact our Irvine probate litigation attorneys at Bradley R. Kirk & Associates, Inc. today for a consultation.
“By your skill and dedication to my case, you allowed me to move on with my life and move past this bizarre chapter. As I mentioned to you when last we met, you are very good at your job. I can’t thank you enough.”- C.B.
Honesty, Transparency & Accessibility
Aggressive Representation. Optimal Results.
Over 50 Years of Legal Experience
Board Certified Specialization in Probate & Trust Litigation