When a loved one passes away, the will he or she leaves behind may need to go through probate, which is a court process that occurs before the distribution of assets. This is often a time-consuming and expensive experience. There may also be family fights that can prolong and complicate the process even more.
Probate disputes can arise for various reasons. Here are some of the most common causes for arguments over probate, wills and estates.
1. Questioning the validity of the will
If a family member decides to dispute the will, a lot of problems can develop. People might claim a will is invalid because it is too old or the signature is a forgery. Even if these claims prove to be false in the end, they can drag out the process.
2. Claiming the deceased was incapable or coerced
Sometimes people may start to assert that the deceased person was not in a proper mental state while making the will. A family member may also claim that someone may have wrongfully influenced the deceased person to include something in the will. If this person has a convincing argument, the will is at risk of losing validity.
3. Differing interpretations of the will
Sometimes estate planning documents are unclear or have inconsistent terms. The terms relating to asset distributions and references to property often come into question. A beneficiary may challenge the way the executor or personal representative has distributed items by bringing up evidence showing a different meaning.
If any of these disputes occur during the probate process and someone contests the will, it can make the process even longer than you imagined. According to The Balance, a personal finance advice website, a contested will can take years to resolve. In any situation where families are fighting over an estate, it can be disheartening and frustrating. Legal counsel is often necessary to resolve family conflict and complicated issues.