Major Estate Litigation

Welcome to the article on estate litigation! This is part 22 in our series, and if you’ve missed any previous articles, check out our index to learn everything you wanted to know about probate in Washington DC.

Whether you’re just interested in learning, or you are looking for information on probate because you need help, the Gormley Law Office is pleased to share this information. We are a full-service law firm in Kensington, Maryland specializing in trusts, estate litigation and probate matters in Washington, DC.

Estate litigation is a broad term to describe many types of lawsuits file related to probate. We’ve all see the headlines and stories about the types of things that happen and later become the subject of estate litigation.

The popular board game Clue is illustrative of this: there is a group of scheming individuals out for someone’s fortune and by elimination and deduction we learn who murdered the wealthy person solely for access to their fortune.

Another real-life story involves Anna Nicole Smith in the case Marshall v. Marshall. She won the case but a second case, Stern v. Marshall, both of which were eventually heard by the Supreme Court.

Perhaps probate isn’t as boring as we thought!

Here are some examples of the reasons a lawsuit is filed in the Probate Division:

To challenge the validity of a will;

To establish a person as an heir of a decedent;

To modify, construe or reform the terms of a trust;

To terminate a trust;

To declare a person dead;

To remove a fiduciary; and

To pay a claim.

All lawsuits filed in the probate division arise out of another Probate Division case, which could be an estate, intervention, trust or notice of revocable trust proceeding.

This is definitely NOT something we would recommend undertaking as a pro se. These cases require the filing of a Complaint which is usually drafted by a lawyer, as it must conform to Civil Division Rules, and verified (sworn) pursuant to SCR-PD 107, 208 and 407.

Verified complaints are reviewed by the Probate Division’s Legal Branch to ensure that they comply with minimum legal requirements. Once accepted for filing, the Probate Clerk’s Office will issue the summons and the Initial Order & Notice of Proposed Schedule of Events to the plaintiff for service on each defendant named in the verified complaint. The fee to file the complaint is $120.00. Additional costs include payment to process servers, which are paid directly by the plaintiff in the litigation case.

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Probate, Estate Planning and Real Estate Attorney
Brian Gormley, Esq. is an attorney licensed in Maryland and the District of Columbia specializing in real estate, probate, estate litigation and other matters. If you need assistance, please use the Contact Feature at the bottom of this page.
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