For many families, the death of a loved one brings not only grief, but also contention and acrimony. Here are three factors that can cause contentious disputes between family members and other parties with interest in an estate:
- Sibling rivalry: When a parent dies, siblings may feel mistreated or overlooked. The potential for disputes is only magnified when there is significant financial disparity between the siblings. When possible, brothers and sisters can benefit from distancing themselves personally from the dispute, and focusing on the law. Putting neutral fiduciaries in charge of these matters can help dispel bad feelings between family members.
- Undue influence: It is not uncommon for key figures to arise the final years and months of a person's life. These people often provide care and serve as confidants. Contention can arise when these close companions become key beneficiaries. If there is strong evidence of undue influence, a will can be deemed invalid.
- Late marriage: Few events contribute more to estate disputes than a late-life marriage. This is especially true when there are not solid estate planning documents in place. When a decedent leaves a spouse and ex-spouse behind, or children from more than one relationship, the need for skilled legal guidance is paramount.
Estate disputes can prove costly and disruptive, but can be resolved efficiently with proactive legal action. If you are engaged in an estate dispute or see one on the horizon, you can benefit greatly from consulting with an experienced estate litigation attorney.