Protecting Estates.
Protecting Legacies.

How to handle estate disputes

The passing of a loved one is usually a sad time. However, it can also present challenging circumstances that cause arguments and disputes among family members.

Whether or not there is a will, It is not unusual for there to be some sort of dispute regarding the decedent’s estate, and there are a variety of ways that the family can resolve any issue.

Common reasons for disputes

A solid estate plan and valid will may prevent many disputes, but conflicts can still occur. One of the common reasons that family members contest a will is if there is a question about its validity. The California Courts discuss that part of the initial probate process is to determine if there is a valid will, which means the decedent was of sound mind and acting under their own volition when writing it.

If the will does not name an executor of the state, the court determines who will be the personal representative, and this may cause conflict. Disputes may also occur based on the actions of the executor. There is an expectation that this individual will act in good faith. The family may take legal action if there is suspicion of a breach of fiduciary duty.

Various ways to resolve disputes

There are three main methods used to resolve estate disputes:

  • Mediation: The most informal of the methods, mediation involves a neutral third party who helps each side work together to come up with a solution.
  • Litigation: The most formal and time-consuming method, litigation involves a court battle in which each side presents their case and then a judge or jury makes a decision based on the evidence.
  • Arbitration: Arbitration involves a neutral third party who makes a binding decision after hearing both sides.

The resolution method chosen may depend on the complexity of the dispute, time, money and various other factors.

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