If you and your family get trapped in a probate dispute, it can be difficult on many levels. The legal process is confusing, and you may have no experience with it. This is already an emotional time, since you just lost a loved one, and that can influence the dispute. In addition, the dispute itself can strain relationships with siblings and other beneficiaries, some of which may not recover.
Understanding why disputes happen
The first step to navigating such a dispute is understanding exactly why it is happening. Some common reasons include:
- The loved one who passed away did not have an estate plan at all, so there is no guidance regarding what you or other family members should do.
- The loved one did have an estate plan, but there are some significant mistakes within that plan, meaning it doesn’t work as intended.
- The assets are very complicated. For instance, maybe your loved one owned a business or held a lot of real estate that now has to get divided.
- The heirs or beneficiaries are not close — emotionally, physically or both — and so they may not trust each other. Disputes often happen when one person thinks another is trying to take advantage of the situation and get assets they do not deserve.
- There are questions about how the estate plan was made. For instance, maybe one heir thinks that the elderly parent was not in a proper mental state to write a will, suggesting that it shouldn’t hold up in court, while other heirs think that it is valid.
Perhaps one of the most complicated reasons for a dispute is simply when sentimental items are involved. People may want these items in a way that far exceeds their monetary value, and it’s impossible to divide some family heirlooms. If it was just about money, they could be sold and the money could get divided, but that doesn’t help when both people want the same item.
What steps do you need to take?
Do you need assistance with a probate dispute or conflict? This is a complicated area of the law, and you need to know what options you have.