When a loved one passes away, the emotions of the entire family will be on edge. Grieving is a very difficult process, and everyone deals with it differently. Therefore, if a will is directed in a way that a certain family member does not expect, reactions can be tense and disputes can arise easily.
A dispute over a loved one's will generally begins long before the family member dies. Often, old feuds and long-held grudges surface in the emotion of someone's death and the disclosure of the contents of the will. In many cases, the beneficiaries settle out of court or those who bring the dispute decide it is not worth the time and money to go through probate litigation. However, if enough is at stake, interested parties may take the matter as far as it can go to obtain their goals.
In Ohio and elsewhere, estate planning includes making decisions and selections that could prove to be damaging or helpful to the estate administration process, depending on how carefully those decisions are handled. This refers to the all-important process of selecting one's representatives, agents and surrogates to handle various parts of one's estate plan, either during life or after death. Most people engaging in estate planning do not focus on the importance of these choices, but the wrong selections could create bad outcomes for the estate and for one's heirs and beneficiaries.
Estate disputes in Ohio and elsewhere can be complicated and involve a web of issues that may take some painstaking analyses by the courts to unravel and resolve. This is true of the probate litigation that has emanated from the estate of football star Aaron Hernandez, who died by suicide in prison last year. His conviction was vacated by an appellate court after Hernandez died.
Estate disputes in Ohio and other states can involve the ongoing responsibilities of an estate's executor to the decedent's family. The most famous estate dispute involving an entertainer in recent years has been the dispute that arose over Prince's death without a will, leaving even the identity of all his heirs in doubt. However, disputes and probate litigation can arise when the artist dies with a will, as shown in the estate of famous blues musician Muddy Waters.
Financial exploitation of the elderly is a steadily growing problem in Ohio and nationwide. This often arises when an elderly person becomes incompetent to handle his or her own affairs. Where preparations have been made in advance, a relative is chosen to take care of those affairs through a duly executed power of attorney. On occasion, the agent under the power of attorney may negligently or intentionally dissipate the elderly relative's funds. When that happens, the situation may become prime fodder to be fought out as probate litigation in the county probate court.
In Ohio as in other states, heirs of an estate may bring probate litigation to challenge management of the estate that has led to improper financial losses for them. In a shocking verdict in another state, a jury awarded $8 billion in punitive damages to the estate and heirs of an American Airlines executive. The probate litigation award was entered against JPMorgan Chase & Co., the institution hired to manage the estate.
Probate litigation takes place regularly in Ohio and other states. It pertains to disputes between heirs and others over a decedent's estate. When a person with assets dies, his or her estate is filed for probate with the county probate court. This may be done with or without a will. There are numerous reasons for probate litigation to flare up.
Many Ohio readers are familiar with the legacy of Charles Manson, which is wrought with scandal, mystery and devastation. Convicted for spearheading a string of murders in 1969, he spent the rest of his life behind bars. The aftermath of his death has also been filled with controversy. In fact, it even took some time for a judge to decide where probate litigation regarding the decedent's estate should take place.
It may not be a popularly known phenomenon, but in Ohio and elsewhere there is a propensity toward probate disputes between stepmothers and their stepchildren. Indeed, the source of such probate litigation may likely be innately tied to the bitter emotional distrust that can develop in such relationships in many families. Stepfather disputes are a little less common than those with stepmothers, but this may simply be due to more abundant numbers of elderly stepmothers who live longer than stepfathers.