Understanding Disputes in Probate

Sometimes families fight when people die.  Estates generally must go through probate before assets can be distributed to heirs. After a loved one passes away, emotions run high and, unfortunately, there can sometimes be disputes during probate.

If the deceased left behind a Will, why might its contents be disputed?

There are several reasons someone might contest a Will.  These include:

  • The Will was very old and they believe there is a more recent version.
  • They do not believe that the deceased had his or her full mental capacities at the time of writing and/or signing the Will.
  • They may believe than another party unduly influenced the deceased in the creation of the Will.
  • The Will is poorly drafted and may not be clear for the present circumstances.

These types of disputes need to be taken to the Probate Court. Eventually a judge will make a ruling as to whether or not the concerns about the Will’s validity are warranted.  

If there is no Will in place, how might probate disputes arise?

With no Will in place, assets are generally distributed in accordance with intestacy law. This means that assets will be distributed to the deceased’s closest surviving family members. However, people can still wind up with disputes.  In blended families, the interests of the surviving spouse may be at odds with the interests of the children of the decedent. Heirs may argue over who gets which assets. Farming children may need help arriving at a distribution plan that allows them to continue to farm.

How can probate disputes be avoided?

If you want to keep these issues from ever arising in the first place, you need to make sure you have a good estate plan in place. You should also ensure that you update your estate plan anytime there’s a major change in your situation, such as the loss or addition of a family member, divorce, or moving to a new state. Even if no major changes have occurred, you should still revisit your estate plan at least once every three years. A significant benefit of proper estate planning is saving your loved ones the hassle and stress of probate disputes after you are gone. We can help create or update your estate plan.

How can probate disputes be resolved?

If you find yourself in a probate dispute, you’re often left wondering how to handle the mess. At Grabitske Law, we have the experience to help clients with the challenges found in administering contested estates and trusts, including disputes that arrive during the probate process. If you’ve found yourself dealing with a probate dispute, we can help. Give us a call at (507) 779-7012.

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Grabitske Law Firm, PLC

For nearly two decades, Paul Grabitske has been helping clients with their legal issues in the areas of estate planning, probate, trust administration, business law, agricultural law and litigation.

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