Over 55 years of legal experience.

Inheritance litigation by Kenneth Mikos, PA

Practicing Probate, Guardianship and Trust Litigation, Probate Administration, Trust Administration, Civil Litigation, and Probate Trial Practice since 1969.


Practice Areas

Inheritance Litigation Inheritance Litigation

A fight over how assets are distributed from an estate. It can involve challenging a will, contesting how an estate is managed, or arguing for a larger share of the inheritance.

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Probate Administration Probate Administration

The court-supervised process of handling a deceased person’s estate. It involves paying debts, gathering assets, and distributing them according to the will or state law.

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Guardianship and Trust Litigation

Guardianship and Trust Litigation

Legal disputes arising from court-appointed guardianships for incapacitated individuals and trusts managing assets for beneficiaries. It can involve questioning the need for a guardian, challenging a trustee’s actions, or disagreements about trust terms.

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Civil litigationCivil Litigation

Unlike criminal cases involving the government, civil litigation is the legal battleground for private disagreements. It’s about getting compensation or a specific action from the other party through lawsuits filed by plaintiffs against defendants. These cases cover many issues and may involve trials, but settlements are typical.

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Questions about a probate issue? Ask our experts

Inheritance Litigation

Inheritance litigation refers to legal proceedings taken to resolve disputes arising from the distribution of a deceased person’s estate. This can involve a variety of issues.

  • Challenging the validity of a will: This might involve contesting whether the will was properly signed and witnessed, whether the deceased had the mental capacity to make a will when it was signed, or whether the will was the product of undue influence or fraud.
  • Intestacy: If the deceased died without a will, their estate will be distributed according to state law, which may not coincide with the wishes of certain family members. This can lead to disputes about who inherits what and how much.
  • Breach of fiduciary duty: An executor or administrator of the estate may be accused of mismanaging the assets or acting in their interests instead of the beneficiaries’ interests.
  • Breach of trust: If the deceased’s estate includes trusts, there may be disputes about how the trust assets are managed or distributed.
  • Other disputes might involve claims for pre-mortem inheritance gifts, disputes over family heirlooms, or allegations that someone has interfered with a potential inheritance.

The process of inheritance litigation can be complex and time-consuming. Our staff will take care of all the necessary steps to acquire the desired result, including:

  • Mediation or negotiation: Often, parties will attempt to resolve the dispute outside of court through mediation or negotiation.
  • Discovery: This is the process of gathering evidence, which may include interviewing witnesses, obtaining documents, and taking depositions.
  • Trial: If the dispute cannot be resolved outside of court, it will go to trial.
  • Appeals: The losing party may file an appeal to challenge the trial court’s decision.

It is essential to consult with an experienced attorney, such as Ken Mikos, if you are considering filing an inheritance lawsuit. We will advise you on the merits of your case, the potential costs and risks involved, and the best course of action to take.

Probate Administration

Probate administration is the court-supervised process of handling a deceased person’s estate after death. It involves several key steps to ensure the estate’s debts are paid and assets are distributed according to the decedent’s wishes (if they had a will) or state law (if they didn’t).

  • Assets and Inventory: The first step involves identifying and valuing all the assets the deceased owned solely (or with no right of survivorship). This includes real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, and belongings.
  • Appointing a Representative: The court appoints a personal representative (executor if there’s a will) to manage the estate. This person is responsible for paying bills, filing tax returns, and distributing assets.
  • Probate Process: There are typically two main types of probate administration:
    • Formal Administration: This is a more complex process required for larger estates or when a will needs to be validated. It involves court filings, notifying creditors, and potentially resolving any disputes.
    • Summary Administration: This is a faster and simpler process for smaller estates that meet specific criteria (e.g., value threshold).
  • Debt Payment: The estate’s debts are paid using estate assets before any distributions to beneficiaries. Creditors have a window to file claims against the estate.
  • Distributing Assets: Once debts are settled, the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries named in the will (if there is one) or according to state law (if there isn’t).

The probate process can be time-consuming and vary depending on the complexity of the estate and state laws. It’s often recommended that a probate attorney be involved to ensure everything is handled correctly and efficiently.

Guardianship and Trust Litigation

Guardianship and trust litigation are intertwined legal areas that deal with disputes arising from court-appointed guardianships and trusts. Here’s a breakdown of each:

Guardianship Litigation:

  • Focus: This centers on legal disputes surrounding court-appointed guardianships for individuals deemed incapacitated. An incapacitated person, also called a ward, may be unable to make their own decisions due to age, illness, or disability.
  • Common Issues: Disputes can arise when someone contests the need for a guardianship, the suitability of a particular guardian, or the guardian’s actions in managing the ward’s finances or care.
  • Examples:
    • An adult child may challenge the appointment of a sibling as guardian for their aging parent, believing they are not the most qualified choice.
    • A ward might contest the guardian’s decisions about their medical care or financial management.

Trust Litigation:

  • Focus: This deals with legal disputes involving trusts, which are legal arrangements where assets are held by a trustee for the benefit of beneficiaries.
  • Common Issues: Examples of disputes include:
    • Challenging the validity of a trust document if it’s believed to be forged or the grantor (person who created the trust) lacked mental capacity.
    • Accusing the trustee of breaching their fiduciary duty by mismanaging the trust assets or failing to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries.
    • Beneficiaries disagreeing about the interpretation of the trust terms or how assets should be distributed.

Connection Between the Two:

  • Overlapping Issues: Sometimes, a guardianship and trust dispute can be intertwined. For instance, a guardian might also be named as a trustee in a trust created by the ward. If there are concerns about the guardian’s actions in managing the ward’s finances, it could extend to questions about their management of the trust assets as well.
  • Beneficiaries’ Rights: In both guardianships and trusts, beneficiaries have rights to ensure the ward or trust assets are protected. Litigation may be necessary to enforce those rights.

General Points:

  • Emotional Toll: These disputes can be emotionally charged, especially when family members are involved.
  • Seeking Legal Help: If you’re facing a guardianship or trust dispute, consulting with an attorney specializing in probate and estate litigation is crucial. They can advise you on your rights and navigate the legal complexities.

Civil Litigation

Civil litigation refers to legal disputes between private parties brought before a court. Unlike criminal cases, in which the government charges someone with wrongdoing, civil litigation is about resolving disagreements and obtaining remedies such as financial compensation or specific actions from the other party.
A plaintiff initiates the lawsuit in a civil case, and a defendant responds. Plaintiffs can be individuals, businesses, or organizations.
Civil litigation covers various issues, including breach of contract, personal injury, property disputes, business torts (wrongful acts), family law matters, and intellectual property.
A civil lawsuit typically involves filing a complaint, discovery (exchanging information), potentially alternative dispute resolution (mediation or arbitration), and a trial where a judge or jury issues a verdict.
Civil litigation aims to get a court order that resolves the dispute. This could involve awarding money to the plaintiff, requiring the defendant to take a specific action (or stop taking a particular action), or issuing a declaratory judgment that clarifies the parties’ legal rights.
Not all civil cases go to trial. Many are settled out of court through negotiation or mediation.