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Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC

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Huntington, WV 25701-2225

Toll Free 800-982-3476

Fax 304-523-2347

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Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC

215 S. 3rd Street

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Clarksburg, WV 26301

Toll Free 800-982-3476

Fax 304-523-2347

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By Anna Melissa Price of Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC on 07/13/2020

Estate Litigation in a Pandemic

The difficulty of losing a loved one is exacerbated when disputes arise amongst beneficiaries or family members. Additional factors, like the coronavirus pandemic, complicate matters even further for those navigating estate disputes in West Virginia (WV), Kentucky (KY), and Ohio (OH). It is always wise to consult with qualified lawyers for estate issues; estate litigation in a pandemic expressly calls for the skill and experience of a WV probate litigation lawyer like those at Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC.

Image of a document reading “Last Will and Testament,” representing the need for a WV probate litigation lawyer when managing estate litigation in a pandemic.

This blog is the third in a series of three on the impact of the coronavirus on probate matters and estate administration. The previous articles in the series discussed estate administration during the pandemic and the implications of a crisis on executors and their fiduciary duties.

What You Need to Know about Estate Litigation in a Pandemic

Estate, or probate, litigation can arise from a variety of estate disputes in WV, KY, and OH. A family member or other interested party may wish to contest a will or remove a trustee, the mental capacity of the deceased at the time arrangements were made might be in question or there could be allegations of undue influence, or an interested party may request an accounting of the disposition of estate assets. These are just a few examples.

Whatever the disagreements, a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic adds further layers of complexity to an already problematic situation. Lawyers for estate issues—and more specifically, a WV probate litigation lawyer from Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC—can manage complications, delays, and extensions while helping your family assess the best path forward, including consideration of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) options.

The Impact of the Coronavirus on Probate Processes and Hearing Schedules

During the pandemic, court hearings and other legal proceedings in WV, KY, and OH have been postponed. As a result, courts are likely to be far behind schedule. Remote hearings have been possible in some but not all cases. While some courts have reopened, many have done so with limited capacity and specific restrictions intended to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

The impact of the coronavirus on probate litigation is very likely to include delays, extensions, and generally slower processing. Remote or virtual proceedings may be required to keep your case moving through the system. Families in WV, KY, and OH who are considering estate litigation in a pandemic must be aware of these probabilities and should consult with lawyers for estate issues who can help them evaluate the best possible options for their specific situation.

Alternative Dispute Resolution for Estate Disputes in WV, KY, and OH

In many situations, with or without a pandemic, alternative dispute resolution can provide a swifter, less stressful solution for estate disputes in WV, KY, and OH. ADR processes are generally less formal than court proceedings and can be more easily adapted to the new normal of remote communications.

One form of ADR is mediation, a process in which the parties work with a mediator to arrive at a mutual agreement. Arbitration is a step more formal than mediation though still less formal than court proceedings. In this form of ADR, a qualified neutral party—an arbitrator—hears the arguments of both sides and decides the case. 

These are just a couple of examples of alternatives that can allow lawyers for estate issues and their clients to resolve estate disputes in WV, KY, and OH more expeditiously, during the pandemic and after.

Why You Need a Probate Litigation Lawyer for Estate Litigation in a Pandemic

Probate litigation is a specialized area of the law that requires skill and knowledge beyond that typically possessed by a general practice attorney or even a lawyer who works in estate planning. Estate litigation in a pandemic calls for even more proficiency and attention to detail. Anna M. Price, a WV probate litigation lawyer from Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC, will help you evaluate your options and proceed with your case in a way that serves your best interests. Contact Anna to schedule a consultation by calling (304) 523-2100 or completing the firm’s online contact form.