Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Family Feud No More: 5 Ways to Resolve a Probate Dispute

When a loved one leaves a will and estate, it may have to go through probate first before the possessions are distributed. Probate disputes are one of the most common ways to tear a family apart, so it is important to resolve them quickly and peacefully.

There are multiple different reasons someone might dispute an estate or a trust, but regardless of the dispute, they can turn into a costly and drawn-out legal battle. Here are 5 ways to resolve a probate dispute before it happens.

5 Probate Fixes to Avoid a Family Feud

1. Proper planning is the best fix.

The best fix of all is to prepare ahead with proper estate planning. Common reasons that wills are disputed can include an outdated document or the decedent’s mental state at the time it was written.

The only way to come to a full resolution, in this case, is to prove that the will is valid in probate court. If the will is written by an estate planner, like those at AnnArborProbate.com, many of these disputes can be avoided.

2. Consider potential changes in assets and liabilities. 

While it is smart to complete estate planning ahead, these documents can’t be completed, set aside, and forgotten about. When that happens, the estate as it was when the plan was created may be completely different than it is at the time the will is distributed.

Assets that are not named specifically may be fought over by family members. To solve this, a mediator may step in to avoid court. If a compromise can’t be reached, the probate court will have to settle the discrepancy. Periodic reviews of your estate can limit this concern ahead of the need.

3. Hire a neutral legal expert to help write your estate. 

When unfortunate surprises occur at the reading of a will, many times people will accuse the beneficiary of somehow influencing the deceased into making changes in the will. A probate court judge may agree with them if they have sufficient evidence and a compelling argument, and then some or all of the will could be invalidated.

If the will is written by an attorney, the documents can be completed with the right steps to ensure that these types of disputes are avoided.

4. Communicate with your family ahead of time. 

In many families, sensitive topics like death and asset disbursement are difficult subjects to tackle. However, when you talk to your family ahead of time about what they can expect after you pass, it makes it easier for them to deal with while they are grieving and surprises - and disputes - can be prevented.

5. Cover all of your assets. 

In the event that someone passes and no will is provided, or some assets are not allocated, the probate court must decide who is entitled to them. If more than one person claims an asset, there may be a dispute.

Sometimes the entity claiming the right to an asset is a debtor. When more than one party requests an asset, the court decides who it goes to. Be sure that all of your assets are included in your estate planning to prevent this dispute.

Estate Planning and Dispute Resolution Requires Legal Knowledge

Whether you are planning your estate and want to avoid any possible familial disputes, or whether you yourself are involved in a probate dispute, it is important to speak to a lawyer who knows the laws regarding wills, trusts, and estates.

They can help you avoid future problems or get the assets that you are legally entitled to as quickly as possible so you can move on with your life or your grieving process.
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