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Probate Disputes

There are few occasions that stir up controversy among family members as swiftly and with more volatility than a will or inheritance dispute. Surviving relatives, creditors, and other stakeholders have the option to contest a will – and ultimately go to court – even if the deceased was very explicit in his or her final plans.

Common Reasons Wills are Contested

There are many reasons the validity of a will might be contested. Common reasons include:

  • There was proven interference with respect to how the will was written or signed.
  • There is undue or excessive favor shown toward one family member over another.
  • The will in question was written under duress or while facing undue influence from other family members. This can be difficult to prove, and these types of allegations can lead to severe and lengthy litigation.
  • The will does not take in to consideration the changes in the deceased’s estate and assets between the time of writing the will and the time of death.
  • It may be believed that the deceased was not in full control of his or her mental faculties when the will was written. In these cases, it is important to look at any changes to the deceased’s mental state caused by an illness or medication. Related side effects can lead the decedent to make arbitrary, illogical or unfair stipulations in the will.

Can I avoid a probate dispute?

Depending on the extent of the litigation, the court process can drain many assets from the estate. Surviving family members should consider the costs and frustrations of litigation compared to the more positive alternatives. If possible, family members should look at more pleasant alternatives, such as mediation or litigation.

In many cases, probate disputes can be resolved proficiently, and everyone involved may be satisfied with the outcome. That being said, these kinds of disputes can also result in long-term hostility. Sometimes, these hardships are out of your control. However, it is necessary to strive for a favorable outcome.

Effective estate planning is the best and easiest way to avoid probate disputes. This is especially true in 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 creates tension between the surviving spouse and the kids from outside of the decedent’s last marriage. In this case, the surviving spouse may want to stay in the home, but, without a will, the kids often end up being the ones who own the home.

Probate Litigation Attorneys

If you are curious to learn more about the probate process and your personal options, look through our website to access more information that can help you move forward. We know how emotionally destructive these concerns can be.

If you have any questions you would like answered by a probate litigation attorney, schedule a free consultation now.