Very little things stir up dismay among family members as quickly and with more volatility than an inheritance or will dispute. Creditors, surviving relatives, and other stakeholders can seek to contest a will – and ultimately take the dispute to court – even if the deceased went to extraordinary lengths to document his or her final plans in full and clear detail. This is why it is important to hire a probate litigation attorney.
There was proven interference with respect to the writing or signing of the will.
The deceased showed undue or excessive favor toward one family member over another.
A family member may believe that the deceased was not in full control of his or her mental faculties at the time the will was written. Perhaps diminished mental state caused by an illness or medication related side effects led the decedent to make arbitrary, illogical or unfair stipulations in the will.
The deceased wrote his or her will under duress or while facing undue influence from other family members. Contesting a will for this reason can be difficult to prove, these types of allegations can lead to intense and lengthy litigation.
The will does not account for changes in the deceased’s estate and assets between the time of writing the will and the time of death.
How can I avoid a probate dispute?
Surviving family members need to consider the costs and frustrations of litigation compared to the potential positives. Depending on the length and depth of the litigation, the court process can drain substantial assets from the estate. If possible, family members should strongly consider alternative strategic approaches, such as mediation or litigation.
Probate disputes can be resolved efficiently, and all parties may be satisfied with the outcome. However probate disputes can also lead to long-term hostility within a family. Sometimes, these hardships are out of one’s control, but it is vital to strive for a favorable outcome.
Effective estate planning is the best way to avoid probate disputes. This is particularly true when there is a mixed family, such as a homestead that is the decedent’s separate property (i.e., the decedent acquired the home before marriage). This situation often pits the surviving spouse against the kids from outside of the decedent’s last marriage as the surviving spouse wants to remain in the home, but, absent a will, the kids end up owning the home.
Probate Litigation Attorneys
If you would like to learn more about the probate process and go over some of your options, make sure to review our website and access additional information to help you move forward. We know how emotionally devastating these concerns can be.