Can You Handle These Common Probate Disputes Without a Lawyer?
You have held a job for years, maybe even steeled yourself to apply for new jobs after a corporate restructuring. You have helped your children submit college applications, reminding them to ask their teachers for recommendation letters more than 48 hours before the application deadline. You have saved money for retirement, disputed fraudulent charges on your credit card, refinanced your home mortgage, and maybe even gone through a divorce. Can being the personal representative of an estate while it is in probate really be that much harder? It depends. When the deceased left a will and had their financial affairs in order when they died, the probate process often goes smoothly. Perhaps the hardest thing about probate is that, every time there is even a small question about what the deceased person would have wanted to do with a certain asset, it is a reminder that the person is no longer there. A Florida probate lawyer can help you think clearly about disputes arising in connection to the estate you are representing.
Common Probate Disputes and How to Deal with Them
Most of the disputes that arise during probate fall into one of the following categories:
- Multiple Versions of the Will – When there is more than one version of the will, heirs often disagree about which is the correct one. Usually, the most recent version takes precedence, unless the petitioner can argue that the deceased person was in such poor health that they were not competent to understand or consent to the new will, which would make the older will take precedence.
- Undue Influence – If you can argue that someone bullied, deceived, or manipulated your dying relative into changing their will or estate plan, you might be able to persuade the court to distribute the deceased person’s assets in a way other than that specified in the most recent version of the will.
- Disputes Over Specific Assets – If the will is vague about certain matters, such as by specifying that the decedent’s “personal property” will be distributed among the decedent’s children, it is a recipe for disputes during probate. For example, two sisters might battle it out over which one gets to keep their late mother’s wedding ring.
- No Will – The law provides a template for distributing a deceased person’s assets if someone dies without a will. In practice, though, probate of estates without a will is a recipe for family discord.
Do You Need a Lawyer?
Probate is stressful even when the deceased person had a well-articulated plan for their estate. It is a good idea to work with a probate lawyer if a family member has chosen you to act as the personal representative of their estate.
Contact an Attorney Today for Help
Relying on a probate lawyer to help you administer your deceased relative’s will is a sensible way to reduce stress and protect yourself from unnecessary expenses. If you know that someone in your family has designated you as the personal representative of their estate, both of you should talk to a lawyer about how you want the probate process to go. Contact Clearwater probate attorney William Rambaum to discuss your questions.