The probate courts exist in part to ensure the appropriate descent of property when someone dies and to protect the rights of individuals and businesses with an interest in someone’s estate. The courts oversee the administration of sizable estates and also resolve any disputes that develop related to the probate process. They help ensure creditors receive repayment as they should and that wills don’t violate the statutory rights of certain family members, like spouses.
Occasionally, family members choose to bring a lawsuit against the estate or the person managing it, resulting in lengthy litigation in probate court. Such litigation can delay the distribution of assets to beneficiaries and may also reduce the pool of property that will pass to beneficiaries and heirs. These are the main causes of protracted probate conflicts.
Questions about document validity
Will contests are some of the most common disputes that occur during the estate administration process. If people have questions about the validity of a document, the mental state of a testator or the legality of certain estate planning instructions, they may take the matter to court in the hopes of asserting their rights and possibly setting aside an unfavorable will.
Issues with the trustee or executor
The individual tasked with estate administration or trust management should be both competent and trustworthy. Unfortunately, sometimes the people handling the legacy of another person prove to be irresponsible or corrupt. Family members may need to challenge someone’s actions or even remove them from their position.
A lack of testamentary documents
Sometimes, the reason that an estate ends up in probate court facing challenges is because the testator died without having appropriate documents in place. There may be questions about the ownership of certain property and the intestate succession rights of different family members.
Probate litigation can strain relationships and diminish the value of an estate, but it may also be necessary to protect someone’s true intentions and to secure a favorable outcome for the largest number of beneficiaries. Recognizing when estate litigation is likely can be helpful both for those hoping to inherit from an estate and those tests with administering one.