What Can Lead To Legal Problems In Probate

Law Blog

The probate process protects the rights of everyone who has a stake in a deceased person's estate. Broadly speaking, probate tends to be a highly standardized process that goes routinely in most cases. There are specific instances where probate can get ugly and produce legal problems, though. If you're worried about anything heading into probate, you should be aware of these four issues that can drive problems.

Contradictory Documents

Ideally, the decedent left behind a well-formed will. The world is not always ideal. For example, they might have made alterations without clearly canceling out contradictory terms. Events after the signing of the most recent will could also lead to contradictions or confusion.

While these contradictions can be problematic, this is why the probate system exists. If you have concerns about potential contradictions, a probate lawyer can help you ask a judge to review and rule on the terms of the will.

Non-Compliant Parties

People don't always comply with the terms of a will. Suppose one of the decedent's adult children had lived with them. However, the estate transfers the property to someone else or even sells it. The decedent's child might try to put up a legal fight. Worse, when they lose, they may also refuse to move out. At that point, you'll need to wait to gain title to the property and then get a court order.

These kinds of situations can get especially difficult if one person has the leverage needed to jam up the execution of the estate. If a beneficiary has the keys to a lock box, for example, a court order may be necessary for you to go to the bank and take control of the contents.

Asset Valuations

You can have some trouble valuing an estate's assets. Particularly if the decedent owned assets that don't regularly sell on the open market, value ranges can be wide. If the executor tries to sell something like a painting or a collectible toy at the low end of the range, the beneficiaries could believe the executor failed in their fiduciary duty. Consequently, the executor might need to hire a probate attorney to explain why they reached the valuation and ask a judge to put an end to the dispute.

Complicated Families

Family gets complicated even under the best of circumstances. If the decedent had children with multiple partners, for example, things may be more complex. Some people might think they should beneficiaries and feel snubbed. They have the right to ask a judge to hear their claims, and that can slow the process even if the claims aren't strong. 

For more information, contact a local probate lawyer


8 May 2023