When someone passes away, their will and estate may have to go through the probate process before being distributed to the heirs. This has the potential to be a time consuming and costly experience, but worst of all is that it can also cause family members to dispute a devise, which can lead to heartbreaking fights. There are many different causes for these types of disputes, and understanding what they are and how they can be resolved is very important.
A will can help to avoid many disputes and misunderstandings, but if one or more family members decide to dispute the will, it can cause big problems. People can dispute a will for many reasons, including the age of the will, the mental state of the deceased when the will was written, and more. In order to resolve this type of dispute, one must prove the validity of the will in probate court. Proper estate planning efforts prior to death can also go a long way toward avoiding this type of conflict.
Accusations of Influencing the Deceased
If a loved one is surprised at something in a will, they may suspect that a loved one who was close to the deceased may have unethically influenced them to make changes to the will. If they can make a convincing argument in probate court, the judge may invalidate some, or even all, of the will. This can be avoided by making sure that all changes to a will or other estate planning documents are done with the help of an attorney who will be able to take the proper steps to ensure everything is completed appropriately to avoid such disputes.
Long Periods of Time Since the Will was Adjusted
Some people set up estate planning documents once and then don’t think about them for many years. Over time, a lot can change in terms of what a person’s estate looks like. This can result in many assets not appearing in a will, so family members or others may fight over who should get them. This type of dispute will need to go through the probate courts so a judge can make a ruling. Disputes like this could be avoided by making sure to schedule periodic reviews of all estate planning documents.
Multiple People Apply for Assets
If there is no will, or it is not clear on what should happen to certain assets, the probate court will make the determination on who gets what. When two or more people request certain assets, it will be a cause for dispute. This type of dispute can occur between family members, or it could include debtors who want to claim assets to pay off a debt. A probate attorney will need to effectively argue why your claim should be honored above any others in order to resolve this dispute.
Never Face Probate Alone
If you have to go through the probate process, or you want to take steps to help ensure your loved ones won’t have to go through these types of disputes, please contact the Vasquez de Lara Law Group. We’ll be happy to go through the details of your estate plan or probate case, provide advice, and represent you in probate court when necessary.