When a family member dies, his or her estate goes through the probate process. Probate can be full of confusion and arguments even in the best of circumstances. But, sometimes, there are legal disputes that arise.
There is often contention when dealing with money and family. Settling an estate is no easy task, especially when there are complicating factors. Here are some common reasons that legal showdowns occur after a loved one passes away.
The loss of a family member can trigger all sorts of emotions among heirs. It can bring sibling rivalries and old grudges to light. Some family members use probate as an opportunity to settle old scores, get even or take advantage of the circumstances for personal gain. A history of family drama makes it likely that an estate dispute may come up.
Accusations of undue influence
In order for a will, trust or any estate planning document to be valid, the creator must make it without any manipulation or coercion. If someone believes the will was procured by undue influence, he or she may launch a will contest.
Sometimes, people create several wills over the course of their lifetime. If this is the case in your situation, it can make the probate process even more tricky. There may be uncertainty regarding the relevancy and validity of the will in question.
Before someone passes away, he or she chooses a representative of the estate. This decision can make things complex, especially if the executor is also an heir. The executor is in charge of securing the estate, managing it and distributing it. Other people may not like who the executor is and may launch a dispute from a feeling of distrust, resentment or jealousy.
Breach of fiduciary duty
The executor must carry out the wishes of the decedent. Some executors use the opportunity to enrich themselves or commit some sort of misconduct. This can set a removal and replacement process in motion.