Probate, Estate, and Trust Litigation

Unfortunately, and despite a loved-one’s best efforts to plan for their estate, sometimes court proceedings are necessary.  Generally, these proceedings are thought of as probate. Probate specifically addresses the estate of an individual and the transfer, receipt, and distribution of property into and from that estate.  Probate actions are frequently necessary when there are assets in an estate that could not, or were not, transferred upon death by other means. While living trusts and beneficiary designations are important tools, there are times when assets are not titled properly or cannot be placed in a trust due to their nature or source.

When probate court filings are necessary, Ryan has the litigation and court experience to guide you and your family through the probate process in Kansas or Missouri.  Probate litigation is a strictly statutory action and fundamentally controlled by respective state statutes. Important in every probate action is the strict adherence to probate codes, dates, filing requirements, and notice provisions.  Leveraging an extensive litigation background in criminal and divorce law, Ryan assists probate clients through every step of the probate process. Ryan’s experience appearing before courts throughout the Kansas City Metropolitan area in contested divorce and criminal matters prepared him well for probate and trust litigation cases where other practitioners focused on estate planning have less courtroom experience.

Ryan represents individuals, families, executors, trustees, beneficiaries, and other parties who have need of resolving, contesting, or litigating some issue related to a loved-one’s property and wishes.

Common Probate Scenarios

One of the most common probate scenarios occurs when a loved one has property that was not placed into their trust account or for which no beneficiary was designated.  While your loved one had the best of intentions in setting up a trust or making their wishes known, they may still have owned property at their passing that now requires Court involvement.  For example, any real estate, home, or land that was not placed in trust, jointly owned, or for which there was no transfer-on-death deed will require court approval for sale and transfer. Most commonly, a family first learns of the necessity for probate proceedings or court involvement when speaking to a realtor or attempting to transfer property by sale.  The statutory requirements and timelines are very strict and so it is best to speak with a probate attorney as soon as possible to get information necessary to limit the stress that can weigh on you and your family.

Another common scenario where probate proceedings are necessary occurs when a loved one had a business interest or entity at their passing.  Whether your loved one was a partial owner, partner, or had some other interest, there may be challenges accessing the business interests, property, bank accounts, or other assets.  There may also be challenges in determining what steps are necessary to wind up the business, withdraw the interest, or move forward with the other partners. Business ownership interests necessitate the review of operating or partnership agreements, work with the remaining partners, and can be very challenging for families that are already dealing with heavy emotions.

Additionally, there may be assets that were incapable of being transferred prior to your loved one passing.  For example, if your loved one received pay for work after their passing (in the form of regular pay or a bonus), was set to inherit assets from another individual who had predeceased your loved one, or had an account or property of which they had simply lost track, then probate proceedings may be necessary to open an estate into which that property can be collected and properly distributed.

Probate Timing

Whether in Kansas or Missouri, the probate code has strict timelines for the submission of any written will.  These timelines are important as the will, if presented within the necessary time, controls the distribution of any property that must pass through the probate process.  Absent a valid will presented in a timely fashion, any property passing through the probate process is subject to division according to state statute rather than according to your loved one’s last wishes.  The various filing requirements and deadlines are an important reason to contact Ryan as soon as possible to be assured that you are informed about the process ahead. Often, family members or close friends named in a will also have responsibilities and requirements, of which they may be completely unaware, they must address even before any court process begins.  Ryan can help you understand your responsibilities and the steps necessary to reduce your stress and anxiety.