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What are common disputes you may encounter in probate?

On Behalf of | Oct 18, 2023 | Probate

Probate is the legal procedure relating to distributing a deceased person’s assets to their beneficiaries or heirs. It can be lengthy and complicated.

Unfortunately, probate proceedings may also give rise to various disputes and conflicts among the involved parties.

Interpretation of the will

One of the most prevalent sources of conflict in probate cases is the interpretation of the deceased person’s will. The language in the will might not always be crystal clear, leading to differing interpretations by beneficiaries. This can result in disputes over the distribution of assets, as individuals may have varying views on what the deceased intended.

Validity of the will

Another frequent dispute pertains to the validity of the will itself. Beneficiaries or other interested parties may challenge the will’s authenticity, claiming someone forged it or that the deceased executed it under undue influence or duress.

Texas also allows online notarization of wills, so an individual might dispute the circumstances of the notarization. These conflicts can lead to lengthy legal battles to determine whether the will is valid.

Appointment of executor

The appointment of an executor, the person responsible for managing the deceased’s estate, can also be a contentious issue. If multiple individuals are vying for this role, disagreements can arise, leading to disputes over who should take on the responsibilities.

Claims by creditors

In probate, the estate must settle the deceased person’s debts and liabilities before distributing assets to beneficiaries. Creditors may make claims against the estate, and disagreements can occur regarding the validity and priority of these claims. The estate’s executor may need to negotiate with creditors to ensure a fair distribution of assets.

Family conflicts

Family conflicts often come to the forefront during the probate process. Siblings, children and other relatives may have differing opinions on the distribution of assets, especially if there are disparities in the amounts each is set to receive. These familial disputes can be emotionally charged and challenging to resolve.

Disagreements over asset valuation

Estimating the value of assets within the estate can also lead to disputes. Beneficiaries may have varying opinions on the worth of specific assets, and these disagreements can affect the overall distribution of the estate.

Disputes over estate administration

The executor’s management of the estate can become a point of contention. Beneficiaries may have differing views on the decisions made or the pace of estate administration, potentially leading to disputes and delays in the probate process.

To navigate these challenges, it is important for those involved to work together to resolve disputes in a manner that honors the deceased’s wishes and the law.