The probate process can be a trying experience for anyone involved. Not only are you grappling with the grief over your lost loved one, but tensions can build as family members disagree over the handling of the estate.
Probate disputes can drag out the length of time it takes to distribute assets. As arguments wear on, it is easy to become impatient. Here are three of the most common disputes you may encounter as you start the probate process.
1. Unqualified executor
Typically, the deceased will have designated an executor prior to his or her death, and this person will be the primary administrator of the estate. An adult son or daughter is a common choice, but sometimes it is not the most appropriate.
The executor needs to have organizational skills and must be willing to apply a fair and impartial approach to the processing of the will. If beneficiaries believe the executor is doing a poor job or using personal vendettas to justify decisions, then family may attempt to remove the person from the role.
2. Coveted assets
A big-ticket asset, such as the family home, can be a source of much dispute during probate. The terms of the will may be unclear, prompting several family members to stake a claim on it.
Furthermore, siblings may disagree on the intention for the home. One may wish to sell it in order to use the profits, while another may want to keep the house in the family for the next generation. When you have a coveted asset combined with an unqualified executor, the disputes can get especially ugly.
3. Contested will
Even with a detailed will in place, it is possible to contest the document if you suspect something is off about it. Many things may have occurred during the writing of the will that may invalidate it in the eyes of a judge.
For example, someone may have coerced your loved one into agreeing to certain terms, or he or she was not mentally capable of making decisions at the time. Families may also contest a will that is years out-of-date, but this can be a bigger challenge to overcome.
If you are gearing up for probate following the death of a family member, prepare yourself for potential disputes along the way. If you have doubts about the executor or specific demands seem fishy, it can help to have legal counsel on your side.