Probably the nightmare scenario for administrators of Ohio estates and trusts is a situation where the estate or trust gets tangled up in a lawsuit. Even if the executor or trustee is not personally being accused of wrongdoing, litigation makes estate or trust administration much more time consuming and stressful.
It also means that the estate will spend money in legal and other fees and could wind up having to pay a judgment. This means that less money will ultimately go to a deceased person’s loved ones or to that person’s other beneficiaries. There are ways to prevent litigation, careful estate planning being one such technique. However, sometimes an executor or trustee simply will not be able to prevent litigation.
Litigation can arise from a number of sources
How exactly to respond to a lawsuit or a threat of a lawsuit will depend a great deal on the situation. For example, when residents of the Dayton area think of probate or trust disputes, the first thing that comes to mind may be family members arguing over the estate. Family strife is a common cause of litigation.
However, even if family members are all on the same page, there are other possible sources of legal trouble. To give another example, a business or individual might submit a claim against the estate that the executor in good conscience feels is unfounded or excessive. The executor would have an obligation to challenge such a claim.
Likewise, taxing authorities and other government offices may claim that an estate owes reimbursement for taxes or for programs like Medicare or Medicaid. In any case, the important things for an administrator are not to panic, to continue to fulfill their legal responsibilities and to carefully evaluate legal options in light of what is best for the estate or trust.