In the aftermath of a loved one’s passing, the distribution of their estate can often lead to unexpected disputes among family members.
Estate litigation, a legal battle concerning the assets and properties left behind, can arise due to several common reasons.
1. Lack of clear documentation
One prevalent cause of estate litigation stems from inadequate or ambiguous documentation. When the deceased fails to leave behind a well-drafted will or if the will is unclear in its instructions, it opens the door to confusion and disagreements among potential heirs. Surprisingly, only 32% of Americans have a will.
2. Disputes over asset valuation
Estate litigation may also arise from disagreements regarding the valuation of assets. Determining the fair market value of properties, investments or other assets can be a source of contention. Family members may have differing opinions on how to assess the worth of these assets, leading to disputes that can prolong the probate process.
3. Unequal distribution among heirs
In cases where the deceased did not distribute their estate equally among heirs, tensions can escalate. Some family members may perceive unequal distribution, intentional or unintentional, as unjust, prompting them to contest the will.
4. Questionable mental capacity
Another common trigger for estate litigation is the contention over the mental capacity of the deceased when creating the will. If there are suspicions regarding the individual’s mental state at the time of drafting the will, it can lead to legal challenges. Providing evidence of mental capacity or consulting with professionals during the estate planning process can help address this issue.
While planning for the end is never easy, doing so can help prevent conflicts and help loved ones naturally grieve without extra stress.