You would think that the tragedy of losing a family member would strengthen the bonds of those who survive with one another. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Some families end up torn apart by the probate process when someone dies.
Conflict can arise for many different reasons and can damage family relationships in addition to diminishing what everyone inherits. What are some of the most common causes of probate conflicts?
1. Someone questions the validity of the will
Maybe one child believes that the documents produced when a parent died appear altered and might be fraudulent. Perhaps several family members believe that someone else exerted undue influence on the testator. Probate disputes can divide a family in half when someone believes there are problems with estate documents but other people claim the documents are valid.
2. There aren’t any testamentary documents
When family members can’t find a will or other documents talking about the distribution of the estate resources, it is common for people to fight and possibly litigate. Although intestate succession laws typically govern property division in such scenarios, families may become very bitter about their disappointed expectations.
3. The executor takes questionable steps
Maybe the executor lets their personal history with beneficiaries influence how quickly they distribute assets to different family members. Perhaps they’ve made mistakes in how they’ve managed assets, and the overall value of the estate has dropped as a result. Family members can end up fighting when some people want to remove the executor and others want them to retain their authority.
Such disputes may require professional help to resolve, including a lawyer’s guidance or even mediation. Sitting down with a professional could help your family resolve the conflict and complete estate administration in a way that honors the deceased family member’s legacy.