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Virginia Probate Litigation

In a perfect world, families come together around the death of a loved one. Everyone acts out of pure motive, exercises due diligence, and trusts the intentions of other parties. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world. There are many issues that can arise with the probate of an estate. The will’s authenticity may be questioned. The actions of the personal representative may be suspect. The personal representative may encounter difficulties marshaling the assets of the estate, or the value of those assets may be in dispute. Such issues can give rise to probate litigation.

Potential heirs and creditors can contest the appointment of a personal representative, petition the court to set bond to cover his or her share of the decedent’s estate, or call for an Inventory or an Accounting of the assets. Although the powers of the Personal Representative are extensive, they are not without limit. For example, while the personal representative has the power to sell real and personal property from the estate, there are some circumstances where court approval may be necessary, such as when the sale is to the personal representative himself or herself, or when one of the heirs objects to the sale.

Tax controversies are another potential source of adversarial proceedings. The personal representative is responsible for the filing of all Federal tax returns associated with the estate, and may be held personally liable for failing to do so. In some instances, an appraisal of property may be necessary for the completion of estate tax returns.

Like other creditors, the IRS and state revenue collecting agencies may lay claim to some portion of an estate. In fact, Federal taxing authorities go beyond that of other creditors, because after due process, they have the power to effectively block the sale of real and personal property, or the liquidation of a bank account, until the taxes and any associated interest and penalties are satisfied.

All of these perils present a challenge to the personal representative. Although the law does not require a person to have a lawyer to probate a decedent’s estate, the process is complicated, and an experienced probate lawyer is helpful. At Thorn Law Group, our experienced probate attorneys offer effective representation in probate, estate tax and related matters. We can help our clients sort out what their rights and responsibilities are as they work through the complexities and challenges associated with the probate process.

For a consultation and to learn more about how a probate attorney from the Thorn Law Group can help you with your tax and probate issues, contact Kevin E. Thorn, Managing Partner, at ket@thornlawgroup.com, or 703-752-3752.

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