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Top reasons that estate disputes occur

On Behalf of | Nov 24, 2023 | Estate Administration & Probate |

Estate disputes can arise for various reasons, leading to conflicts between specific family members and/or beneficiaries. Oftentimes, disputes happen when there is no estate plan in place. Family members may have to work together to make decisions in the wake of a loss and they may run into conflicts along the way.

But there are also many disputes even when a plan does exist. Below are some of the top reasons why these disputes occur.

Concerns related to the validity of a will

A will must be valid in order to be enforceable, and only the most recent official version is enforceable as well. Challenges to the validity of a will can arise if there are suspicions of undue influence, fraud, lack of testamentary capacity or if the will wasn’t executed correctly according to legal requirements.

Inheritance distribution issues

Many disagreements occur regarding the distribution of assets among beneficiaries. This could involve unequal distributions, unclear instructions in a will or the omission of certain individuals, leading to disputes among beneficiaries. Some disputes arise when multiple people all want the same items, especially if these items have more sentimental value than financial value.

Family dynamics

Family conflicts and strained relationships can intensify during the estate settlement process. Sibling rivalry, historical family disputes or differing perceptions of fairness in the distribution of assets can lead to disagreements and disputes. This is often an issue if there are unequal bequests and it seems that one family member was considered the favorite when compared to the others.

Executor or trustee actions

Conflicts might arise if beneficiaries question the actions or decisions made by the executor or trustee responsible for managing the estate. Allegations of mismanagement, conflicts of interest or improper handling of assets can lead to disputes. For instance, a trustee could face accusations of not distributing the contents of the trust when the beneficiary needed and deserved that money. Or an estate executor could be accused of falsifying an inventory of assets in order to keep some of these assets for themselves.

Seeking a resolution

Resolving estate disputes is challenging and important. Seeking legal advice and guidance can help in navigating the complexities of estate law and finding solutions to these disputes.