You might think that the death of a beloved family member always brings the surviving friends and family members of the deceased together in harmony. More often than not, though, the death of a family member can be the catalyst to acrimonious litigation in court as the survivors and beneficiaries of the decedent argue about the estate the deceased left behind.
While creating a detailed and current estate plan with the help of a Florida estate planning lawyer can reduce the chances of your loved ones and beneficiaries rushing to court to argue about your estate, probate disputes and litigation are always a possibility when someone dies. Understanding why these disputes arise and what can prevent them can help you see the need for reviewing your estate plan with a qualified attorney.
Common Probate Disputes and Causes of Probate Litigation
What drives many people to the courthouse following their loved one’s death is a feeling that the will, estate plan, or the law unfairly disadvantages them or otherwise does not reflect the desires of the deceased. For example, a probate dispute might arise because:
- A child or beneficiary of the deceased did not receive as great a share of the estate as anticipated
- There are multiple wills or estate plans and no agreement on which one is valid
- Questions exist whether the deceased was mentally capable of making a will, trust, or estate plan at the time that they did
- One person received a gift of certain property during their lifetime that another beneficiary was supposed to receive under the terms of the deceased’s estate plan
When these disputes exist and are filed in court, the administration of the deceased’s estate grinds to a halt under the matter. Distributions of property to all beneficiaries may be paused by the court until the court can make a ruling, and the legal and other costs of everyone involved in the dispute can increase due to additional court hearings.
How Do Probate Disputes Get Resolved?
Like other civil disputes, probate litigation may require several court hearings before the dispute is resolved. If the parties involved cannot reach a settlement agreement, a hearing will be held where the court will receive evidence pertaining to the dispute. After this, the court will enter an order, which might then be appealed if one or more parties are not satisfied with the court’s ruling.
How a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer Can Help You Avoid Conflict
No one desires that their family and friends fight over their property after they pass. Creating a detailed estate plan and ensuring your heirs and beneficiaries know about the plan can help avoid conflict when you do pass away. In the cases where litigation cannot be avoided, a well-drafted estate plan can at least decrease the length of time it takes for the dispute to resolve.
Learn more about the benefits of a carefully crafted estate plan by contacting the Largo office of Centonzio Law online or by phone at (727) 900-7290. Request a meeting with our experienced and helpful team and discuss your estate planning goals with us.