All too often families must endure the pain of losing a loved one, parent, brother, sister, or even a child to a disease or accident and the legal aftermath can result in various conflict amongst relatives and even in-laws. Disputes over inheritances and estates can rupture the relationships they have.
Fights like this can sometimes be about the material possessions that the deceased has left or sometimes about money. One of the things that should be done right away, for everyone, is to create an estate policy that diminishes any possible conflict that may arise between relatives.
Estate Litigation: What Is It?
Planning their estate is something every family must consider to do. There are times that relatives, with unresolved issues, encounter problems regarding the estate left behind by the deceased. These could be debts, loans, or remaining payouts that were not completed before the loved one passed on. Sometimes the administrators themselves have issues with the heirs or the beneficiaries stated on the will.
Estate litigation is the process of allocating the entire inheritance or legacy to the successors, testate or intestate (with or without a will), in the presence of the court. These may be settled in a simple and uncomplicated manner among all the parties involved as long as they are willing to do it peacefully and rationally.
Causes for Estate Litigation
Most people do not wish to enter in such processes but sometimes it’s necessary and inevitable. Here are some of the most common causes of estate litigation:
- Feud with creditors – this may be about unpaid loans left by the deceased.
- Arguments on the will and how the assets are divided – heirs and successors may have disagreements between their shares and this could ignite a litigation.
- Vitiated consent or undue influence.
- Financial misuse – administrators and heirs alike may wrongfully use the finances to purchase prohibited drugs or even lavish expenses.
- Intestate succession.
- Life insurance.
How Can You Avoid Estate Litigation?
Here are some tips that would help you avoid estate litigation:
Prove that you are sane
Living in this world might have introduced you to a lot of people that may have enjoyed your company and your experiences with them have resulted in a lot of memories. These memories may entail crazy moments that would lead people to think that you were simply not sane. Hence, it is important to establish that you are sane and in a proper mental state.
In addition to that, proof may be collected from checkups or medical visits to doctors, psychologists and even psychiatrists that would eventually abolish the suggestion of insanity. Furthermore, this can eradicate any doubt that may promulgate impending litigation.
Deliberate the inequitable distribution of estate
Knowing that someone left an inequitable distribution of estate may be quite a bother and potentially could result in an estate litigation. People do not like unfair treatment and they will do everything in their power to obtain equal treatment and a fair share in things.
In reality, there’s no particular law that mandates equal shares in the estate among the relatives regardless of the degree of the relationship. The heirs may question allocation of shares therefore if you decide to give unequal shares, there must be a sound reason to give to them. Deliberating the distribution of shares may be more acceptable than shocking yoru heirs with the document itself.
There are times that exclusions may be made as some particular family members or relatives may be perceived as unworthy of receiving a part of the estate. Some may interpret it as a “mistake” yet it can also be intentional. Therefore, it must be carefully and clearly explained so that they understand and comprehend it completely. That way no questions will need to be asked afterwards.
Family Member vs Corporate Administrator to Manage the Estate
Choosing a person to administer and manage the estate may ignite an argument among the family, including the relatives. The best thing to do in order to be able to resolve an issue with the estate manager is to find an impartial third party, particularly an attorney or a treasury, that may aid in avoiding these possible arguments.
Nobody wants to ignite a battle between family members, relatives, or friends that would be about the estate. Estate plans must be carefully scrutinized to minimize emotional turmoil. Drafting a will or an estate plan is best done in the presence of an attorney, who can help reduce potential conflict. If you’re looking into more specific aspects of this subject, such as estate planning, click here.
Kiren is a estate law writer who enjoys writing about subject in relation to real estate and law. He has written for a few blogs in the past, and enjoys sharing his knowledge with those who enjoy reading. In his spare time he enjoys spending quality time with those he loves.