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Virginia Supreme Court Issues New Estate Dispute Opinion

Back in June of this year, the Virginia Supreme Court handed down a ruling in an estate dispute case that, while it didn’t particularly break new legal ground, provides a helpful overview of the current state of Virginia law...more

Legal Malpractice Claims Against Estate Planning Attorneys in Virginia: Post-Thorsen Legislation

The legal landscape in Virginia regarding claims for legal malpractice against estate planning attorneys changed significantly this past year when the Virginia General Assembly adopted legislation to address the issues raised...more

Trust Decanting Disputes

As trust decanting becomes increasingly popular, we can expect to see more disputes and litigation regarding trust decanting. This blog post examines some of the main issues that will likely arise in those disputes....more

Trustee Removal Lawsuits: An Overview

How can a person remove a trustee of a trust? Depending on the language of the trust, there could be several ways. This blog post summarizes some of the options, and provides an overview of things to consider when a person...more

Practical Tips Regarding Oral Contracts to Make Wills

This blog post is part 2 of the series on oral contracts to make wills, and this post contains several practical tips for how a person can optimize his chances of winning a claim for breach of an oral contract to make a will....more

Oral Contracts to Make Wills

The vast majority of people have no idea that Virginia law recognizes oral contracts to make a will. As a result, people often miss out on asserting a claim to an inheritance because they didn’t know that they had one to...more

10 Arguments Against Pre-Death (Antemortem) Probate and Will Contests

There are a handful of states that allow a person to probate a will (and challengers to contest the validity of a will) before the testator (the person enacting the will) dies. In recent years, there has been a trend to...more

Top Four Estate Disputes from 2016

With the end of 2016 upon us, now is a fitting time to look back at some of the top estate disputes from this past year. 2016 was a typical year in that, unsurprisingly, people continued to die and families continued to fight...more

Changes To Elective Share Law in Virginia Will Lead To More Litigation

The Virginia General Assembly overhauled Virginia’s elective share statute this past year, and one of the big results will likely be an increase in litigation....more

Do It Yourself Wills: Will They Lead to More Litigation?

Here’s my prediction: do it yourself wills, also referred to as “homemade wills” or “online wills” or “internet wills” (I’ll refer to them in this blog post as “DIY Wills”) will result in a significant (though not massive)...more

Guardianship Petitions by Long Term Care Facilities

This blog post explains how long term care facilities (LTCFs) can consider utilizing guardianship and conservatorship petitions for problematic situations where a resident has named an agent under a power of attorney (POA),...more

Who Would Inherit Darth Vader’s Estate?

Who would be the beneficiary of the estate of Darth Vader? The answer is more than just an exercise in Star Wars fiction; in fact, the answer can teach us important lessons about estate disputes in our real world....more

Recognizing Signs of Elder Abuse (and Traits of Elder Abusers)

My goal in this blog post is to discuss character traits of elder abusers so that you can recognize them and hopefully protect yourself, your family, and your friends. I’ve handled over 100 estate disputes, and in a sizeable...more

Risks to Estate Planning Attorneys in Light of the Thorsen Case

There are several things that all estate planning attorneys (and those who advise them) need to be aware of in light of the Virginia Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Thorsen v. Richmond Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty...more

Virginia Supreme Court Issues New Ruling Regarding Guardianship Orders

A recent Virginia Supreme Court case highlights the importance of using precise language in an order appointing a guardian, as well as ensuring that when a guardian files suit on behalf of a ward, the guardian sues in the...more

Misconduct Remedies Against an Agent Under a Power of Attorney

In a prior blog post, I discussed the duties of an agent under a power of attorney. In this blog post, I discuss the remedies that people have against an agent under a power of attorney when the agent commits misconduct....more

3 Strange Things About Prince’s Estate

There are several unusual factors at play in the drama that is unfolding surrounding Prince’s estate. This blog post discusses them and offers some tips so that you can hopefully avoid a similar situation....more

Duties of an Agent Under a Power of Attorney

Many average people are named as agents under a power of attorney for a family member or friend, and most have little to no idea what they are getting themselves into. Many people also are aware of the fact that a relative...more

The Rise of Litigation Involving Trust Protectors

Disputes involving trust protectors are increasing in number and will likely only further increase in number in the coming years. This blog post discusses what a trust protector is, whether trust protectors owe fiduciary...more

Family Drama in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

George Lucas recently stated that Star Wars is “actually a soap opera, and it’s all about family problems.” Distributing the assets of a deceased loved one is a problem that almost all families will eventually face. So, in...more

4 Steps To Take If An Estate Dispute Is Brewing

If an estate dispute is brewing (but is not yet in litigation), there are several important steps that people can take to maximize their odds of success if the matter proceeds to litigation. In the vast majority of...more

The Fictional Fight Over Han Solo’s Estate

Who would be the beneficiary of the estate of Han Solo?  Star Wars is obviously a fictional universe, and there is no indication in Episode 7 (or any other canon material that I’m aware of) that speaks to whether Han Solo had...more

2/17/2016  /  Estate Claims , Estate Planning

“No Contest” Clauses Part 3: The Rafalko Dissenting Opinions

This is the third in a three-part series of blog posts on “no contest” clauses. In this post, I’ll discuss some of the key points in the dissenting opinions in the recent Virginia Supreme Court ruling in the Rafalko case (777...more

“No Contest” Clauses Pt. 2: The Rafalko Majority Opinion

This is the second in a three-part series of blog posts on “no contest” clauses. In this post, I’ll discuss some of the key points in the recent Virginia Supreme Court ruling (777 S.E.2d 870) in the Rafalko case relating to...more

Yes, Virginia, There Is A “No Contest” Clause

This is the first in a three-part series of blog posts on “no contest” clauses, inspired by a recent Virginia Supreme Court ruling. In this post, I’ll briefly explain what a no contest clause is, and provide a general...more

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