BADGE - Rhode Island Bar Association
BADGE - Massachusetts Bar Association
BADGE - Client's Choice Award badge
BADGE - Martindale-Hubbell Gold Client Champion

Rhode Island Probate Lawyer

Legal Representation in Will Contests, Guardianships, and Related Matters

Probate is the term for the procedure whereby a decedent’s affairs are handled. When somebody passes away, all the property owned by them that does not pass directly to others through a right of survivorship, through a trust established before death, or through life insurance payable to a named beneficiary is subject to a legal proceeding known as probate. In Rhode Island, each city or town has its own probate court with its own probate judges. When a will is probated, proof is provided that the will was validly executed by the decedent. However, in some cases, issues may arise, and these may result in will contests or proceedings to challenge a guardianship. Rhode Island probate lawyer Stephen Levesque can represent you in these challenging situations. He also is the Host of the weekly talk show Legal Tips every Sunday on 630 WPRO, and he is a member of the Rhode Island Bar Probate Committee.

Will Contests

When somebody brings an action to contest a will, there is a claim that the will is not legitimate and should not be followed. There may be many grounds to challenge a will, including fraud, coercion, duress, and lack of mental capacity. When the requisite formalities are not observed, moreover, a will may be rendered invalid. There must be a certain number of witnesses when a will is executed, for example.

Property Transfers

Through probate, a court transfers a decedent’s assets to beneficiaries designated in a will or by operation of Rhode Island law. Probate is the legal mechanism used to effectuate the transfer of real estate title. Often, these court proceedings are expensive and time-consuming. There are ways to avoid going through probate for property transfers. In Rhode Island, these options include simplified probate, joint ownership, living trusts, payable-on-death designations, transfer-on-death designations, and transfer-on-death registration for vehicles. A probate attorney can advise Rhode Island residents on whether these options may meet their needs. When joint ownership is used, there are two types: joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety. When property is owned in joint tenancy, the transfer is automatic, and no probate is necessary for that property.


Guardianships remove someone’s right to make important decisions for themselves. A guardianship is considered an intrusive device, which should be used only if there are no alternatives that adequately otherwise support an individual’s needs. The court grants the guardian the authority to make certain decisions on behalf of the ward and simultaneously removes the ward’s right to make those decisions. In a guardianship, the probate court provides a guardian with the power to make financial and personal decisions for a ward. A guardian may be appointed for someone who is incapacitated, or they may be appointed for a minor. Usually, a family member files a petition with the court that specifies facts showing incapacitation. A Rhode Island probate attorney can assist with this petition and the following steps. The person who is the subject of the petition will need to be personally served and must have an opportunity to respond.


If you do not agree with a decision made by a probate court, you may be able to appeal it. Pursuing a case on appeal is not the same as bringing an initial case. When the lower court’s decision is appealed, the party bringing the appeal must show that there was a problem with the trial or the judge’s determination. Someone who is not subject to a probate decree or order may appeal to the superior court for the county where the probate court is located by following certain procedures. The would-be appellant needs to file a claim of appeal to the superior court for the county where the probate court is established within 20 days of the execution of the order or decree by the probate judge.

Contact a Dedicated Probate Lawyer in Rhode Island

Probate administration and litigation in Rhode Island can have significant consequences. Much may be at stake, and often emotions run high because family members are involved. Call the Law Offices of Stephen P. Levesque at (401) 490-4900 or contact us through our website if you need assistance with these sensitive matters. Based in Cranston, we assist people throughout Washington County, Kent County, and Providence County.

Client Reviews
"Attorney Levesque answered my phone call immediately and was especially informative with regard to my problem. I am still in the initial stages of formulating a plan and I won't hesitate to have Stephen handle my situation." Eliza W.
"Words cannot express our gratitude for the way in which you capably and competently represented us in court last Tuesday. You are an outstanding attorney with a unique sensitivity to your client’s personal and legal affairs. We are proud to say that Stephen P. Levesque is our lawyer! Once again, thank you." William R.
"Thank you so much for helping me through this time. It’s refreshing to have such professional, courteous & respectful people surrounding me in business. You are the model that many should aspire to be. You are the best! Thank you again!" Roy R.
"Thank you so much for your help. I very much appreciate the professionalism, quick response to my calls and thoroughness of you and your staff. Thank you!" Jen R
"We just wanted to take a moment to say thank you for helping us get our lives back in order financially. There were many sleepless nights. We thank the Lord for people like you that are out there to help people like us." Andrea L.