Ask almost anyone who has ever worked within the scope of a probate court, and you will likely hear them all mention one phrase heard time and again… “My family would never be that way.” Spoken by parents, children, siblings, cousins, etc., it seems to be a common misconception that once a person is deceased, his or her family will have no problems getting along and agreeing on the distribution of assets. However, this is often not the case. One of the wisest decisions we can make when it comes to our family’s peace of mind after our passing is to make sure we have provided a Last Will and Testament as direction.
Sadly, money can make people do strange things. Even the closest families can find themselves torn apart after the death of a loved one when there are disputes over what is left behind, especially those items that carry large monetary value. These are often the cause of probate litigation, and therefore, the need for a probate attorney.
Probate litigations can arise from a variety of scenarios. In layman’s terms, a party chooses to contest a Last Will and Testament. Many times, this is due to an allegation that a will was amended under undue influence, or that the person was not mentally competent enough to understand what he or she was signing. Occasionally, when it comes time to perform an inventory, a family discovers that there are missing assets with no explanation as to who received them, when, or how. In blended families, there can be disputes among ex-spouses or step siblings who want to stake their claim as well. These are just a few examples of situations that can arise when an estate enters probate. Others can be found here in an informative article published by Newsmax.
The probate process itself, even when things go perfectly, is long, stressful, and exhausting. Most of the time, when a party agrees to perform duties as executor of an estate, he or she has no idea what will be required. Which leads to the second most common statement… “I will never agree to do this again.” When issues arise that lead to probate litigation, an experienced attorney will be your family’s best friend. When probating any estate, it is highly recommended that the first step any executor take is to retain legal counsel.