It is not unusual for disputes to arise whenever a loved one passes on. One of the major causes of disputes is usually related to how the decedent’s properties are divided amongst their heirs. Fortunately, a sound estate plan can go a long way in minimizing most disputes.
Disputes tend to be normal where the decedent leaves a valid will in place. However, in certain circumstances, even with clear instructions in place, disputes still come up.
Here are some of the common reasons why a will may be disputed.
Invalid execution of the will
A will is only valid when it is properly executed. And the execution of a will requires the signing and attestation as per the state’s laws. A will that is not properly signed or attested can be a subject of dispute and eventual invalidation.
Claims of undue influence
Sometimes, heirs to a property may express dissatisfaction with the content in the will on grounds that the deceased was coerced into signing the will. The will can be invalidated if the dissatisfied parties manage to prove this in court. Undue influence of the deceased can happen in two ways:
- When the deceased is coerced into making the declaration against their will
- When the deceased is manipulated into making the will according to someone else’s wishes
Unauthorized transfer of assets
If the executor or the person who has the power of attorney initiates transfer of property or withdraw funds from the bank, and in so doing reduces the value of the estate, the beneficiaries can question the legality of such transfers. Such disputes are common in circumstances where an individual takes unlawful actions that reduce the value of the estate. When this happens, the beneficiaries may petition the court to remove the executor and reduce their portion of the estate.
A will is an important estate planning document that speaks for you when you are no longer around to make crucial decisions regarding your assets. If carefully prepared, a will can minimize chances of disputes while giving your loved ones the peace of mind they need during difficult moments.