Will Contests and Estate Litigation

Need to contest a will or trust? Our attorneys can help

Planning for the future can be a daunting task. That's why people put so much thought into writing a will or a similar legal document. A well-written will or trust can preserve your loved one's assets and make sure their wishes are followed during their lifetime and afterward.

But what happens if the will or trust is the product of undue influence or diminished capacity? What if the document does not adhere to South Dakota law? What if you believe the will or trust was not executed properly?

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Knowing what to do in such situations can be confusing. Even knowing what your rights are might not be clear. That's why it's critical that you contact our law firm. The attorneys at Zimmer, Duncan & Cole, LLP can meet with you and carefully explain all the legal options available to you.

Estate litigation cases complicated

You may need to challenge the document on the grounds that the person who created the estate plan had a mental impairment or was coerced by someone else. That could be another family member or heir. In some cases, the executor or beneficiary may have exerted undue influence.

It's not unusual to become embroiled in a dispute over a will or trust. You may know that a family member or friend did not act voluntarily when making it out. It may be clear to you that your loved one was not of sound mind when creating the estate plan.

But proving undue influence or diminished capacity can be a challenge. You may need to obtain medical records and other documents to make your case. That's why it's so important to contact our law firm. We know how to gather and review evidence necessary to successfully contest a will or trust. We can help you build a winning strategy.

Types of estate litigation cases

There are many different types of estate litigation cases we regularly handle at our law firm. We strongly encourage you to schedule an appointment with our firm if you are dealing with any of the following legal matters:

  • Contested will
  • Contested estate
  • Improperly executed will or trust
  • Forged documents
  • Breach of fiduciary duty

Why are wills and trusts contested?

We provide sound legal counsel for clients who need to contest a will or trust (also called last will and testament, living wills, etc.) for any number of reasons. Such reasons include:

  • Undue influence - If someone pressured a loved one to draft a will or change it, you could have grounds to legally contest the will.
  • Unsound mind - If a loved one writes a will or alters it, they must be of sound mind when doing so. Otherwise, you might have a legitimate "lack of capacity" or "diminished capacity" case since your loved one was of unsound mind when drafting or changing the will. Common examples of unsound mind include people suffering from Alzheimer's, dementia or senility.
  • Forged wills - Someone claims the will in question was written by someone else and the signature was forged on the document. Or perhaps the will was amended without the knowledge of the person who wrote the will.
  • Invalid signatures - In order for a will to be valid, it must be signed by several people, including witnesses and a testator, the person who created the will. If those signatures were forged, someone could contest the will on the grounds of "lack of valid execution" of the will.
  • Lack of approval - If the person signing the will did not know the document was a will, the will could be declared invalid. Proving such claims can be difficult, which is why you should contact our law firm.
  • Professional negligence - If the attorney who drafted the will made a mistake, the will could be contested. The negligence may be due to clerical errors or may be a result of incompetence and a lack of understanding of South Dakota's laws.

How we can help you

We thoroughly understand how the legal system works in South Dakota. That's because our law firm has handled estate litigation cases statewide since 1948. That's why we have such a well-earned reputation for being results-driven attorneys who get the job done right.

We understand how emotionally charged an inheritance dispute case can be for families.  That's why we provide personal attention and take the time to understand your needs. As your attorney, we can take legal action to protect your legal rights and your assets by:

  • Resolving disagreements in the estate, whether it is with the will, trust, or other testamentary document
  • Resolving disputes in probate
  • Disputing will contests
  • Negotiating and discussing how the estate has been handled
  • Working out ambiguities
  • Removing an executor or trustee
  • Defending against the removal of an executor or trustee
  • Contesting guardianship matters
  • Dealing with creditor claims against the decedent and the estate
  • Moving matters forward so the estate is administered in a timely manner
  • Representing you in probate and in determining how the assets will be administered, if the decedent died without a will

Many lawyers avoid complicated legal battles to contest wills and trusts. We thrive on them. That's because we understand just how important such cases can be for everyone involved. Contact our law firm right away and find out how we can help you.

Zimmer, Duncan & Cole, LLP - transforming obstacles into opportunities for justice.

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Sioux Falls

5000 S. Broadband Lane, Suite 119
Sioux Falls, SD 57108

Phone: 605-361-9840
Fax: 605-271-7872
Toll Free: 888-733-2992
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Parker

120 N. Main Street
Parker, SD 57053

Phone: 605-297-4446
Fax: 605-297-4488
Toll Free: 888-733-2992
Location Details