Preserve the Testamentary and Other Documents
First and most importantly, it is crucial that you obtain and preserve the original last will and testament or trust. You should also find and keep any other documents disposing of or transferring property.
Sometimes, there is a question of whether the will or trust was forged. It may be important for a handwriting expert to perform a forensic document examination. They analyze and compare the questioned will or trust to other known authentic documents. Oftentimes, a forensic expert can determine whether the will or trust was actually written or signed by the person. So, it is important to also find and keep other documents that you know the person actually wrote and signed. Some good items to keep include handwritten holiday or birthday cards, checks and notes. Those written and signed around the same time as the questioned will, trust or other document are usually best.
Preserve Documents Showing Assets
Second, you should obtain and keep copies of any records showing assets or income. They include tax returns, bank and financial account statements, deeds, titles, stock certificates, insurance policies and promissory notes. You should also keep any other records that may reveal property that is or should be part of the estate or trust.
Hire an Experienced Estate Litigation and Probate Attorney
There is no substitute for early advice from an experienced probate lawyer who regularly handles estate disputes and litigation. Many people feel that they can handle an estate dispute on their own and hire an attorney too late, after crucial claims have been missed or rights lost. There are deadlines within which such claims may be pursued. It is often important to hire an attorney early so that crucial deadlines are not missed and evidence and documents are preserved.
If you have questions regarding an probate, trust or other estate dispute, contact the probate attorneys at Berk & Moskowitz, P.C. We aggressively handle virtually all types of disputes.