Estate Litigation Attorney
Carefully drafted estate plans are designed to avoid disputes and litigation. However, for those with poorly drafted wills or trusts — or those with no estate plans at all — disputes are far more likely. The probate and estate administration process can give rise to heated battles among family members.
The probate process requires establishing the validity of a will. Sometimes, however, the will may come under challenge for various reasons. Perhaps it does not conform to the technical requirements of Virginia law — if it was not properly witnessed, for example. Disputes can also arise over the legal capacity of the will maker (called the “testator”) at the time he or she executed the document. Another type of challenge can arise if a third party exercised undue influence over the testator, swaying the financial or property distribution in his or her favor.
At the law firm of Ryland & Merchak, PC, we handle all types of will-related disputes for both those seeking to challenge a will and those seeking to defend it. Our Woodbridge-based estate litigation lawyer, Bill Ryland, is an accomplished trial attorney with more than 34 years of legal experience. You can rely on him for zealous advocacy through all stages of your case.
Breach Of Fiduciary Duty (Mismanagement By An Executor Or Trustee)
Trustees and executors have important fiduciary duties — that is, legal obligations they must fulfill with high standards of care or prudence. They cannot use the estate or trust property for their own benefit. They must also treat each beneficiary or heir fairly, in accordance with the terms of the will or trust.
When fiduciaries violate these duties and act in a manner that harms the estate or trust, they can potentially be held personally liable. If you believe you have a fiduciary claim against an executor or trustee, our firm can assess the situation and guide on the next steps, which may include pursuing a contested hearing before the local commissioner of accounts and circuit courts.
We also defend trustees and executors against allegations of fiduciary breaches. If you are facing such allegations, it is critical to seek professional guidance.