Whether you recently lost a loved one or are currently creating an estate plan, you may encounter the probate process. According to the American Bar Association, the probate process is designed to help settle an estate after someone passes. The process often includes gathering all property and assets in the estate and finding its value, paying off any lingering debt or taxes and distributing the remaining property and assets to the beneficiaries named in the last will and testament.
Issues may arise, however, that require the estate to go into litigation. Not only can it take longer to settle the estate when it goes into probate litigation, but it can cause a myriad of other issues as well.
Administration issues may involve problems with the executor of the estate. It is important to check with the person that you wish to name as the executor of your estate before putting them in the official document. If the person decides they do not wish to act in the role, the court will appoint an administrator for them. The executor may agree to take on the position and fail to meet their end of the responsibility. A breach of fiduciary duty may occur if the executor misuses estate funds as well.
Beneficiaries, or potential heirs, may choose to dispute the validity of the information in the will. They may feel as though the document has been tampered with or forged. A party may also argue that the deceased was under undue influence when they signed the will. Furthermore, there may be a newer copy of the will that supersedes the old one.
It is also important to ensure the estate is valued properly. Beneficiaries may feel as though they lost property or assets owed to them if they do otherwise.
Ensuring everything runs correctly during the probate process reduces the chances of a probate dispute.