Probate often can be a complicated process. The estate must be settled, and many tasks completed. But along the way there is the possibility for disagreements to surface, leading to litigation.
Disputes happen, whether among family members or due to an executor neglecting or abusing his or her duties.
Breach of fiduciary duty, family disputes
Among the more prevalent disputes that may lead to probate litigation include:
- Breach of fiduciary duty: This happens when the executor fails to act in the best interest of the estate. Maybe the executor stole from the estate or committed forgery. These situations promise to be more challenging when the executor is a family member.
- Contested wills: There may have been situations of undue influence because a “trusted” person manipulated a vulnerable person to make changes to the will, favoring the manipulator. Or maybe the testator did not have the mental capacity to approve the will, potentially invalidating the document.
- Matters related to the division of assets: Perhaps a person was left out of the will and has legitimate claims to specific assets.
- Family disputes: Such disputes more than likely spilled over from personal lives into the probate process. One example is that a dispute may surface if the testator did not create a will.
- Creditor claims: Whether companies or individuals, they are creditors owed money by the estate and may file lawsuits seeking repayment.
Litigation is possible in any of these situations.
Avoid disputes with a well-prepared plan
Disputes stemming from the probate process are not uncommon. They may surface unexpectedly or with a vengeance due to bad blood among family, questions about the will’s validity or a selfish executor. That is why it is critical to have a solid estate plan, share your wishes with heirs and beneficiaries and choose a trustworthy executor.