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What are Some Common Estate Disputes?

court dispute

The death of a loved one is difficult in more ways than one. Aside from the grieving that comes with death, disputes over a person’s estate can sour relationships and lead to more stress on a family. Such disputes can cause the destruction of the loved one’s intended asset distribution plan. For this reason, careful, intentional estate planning is advised to ensure your assets are going where you intended them to go.

A will is a relatively simple way to leave your last wishes. Estate planning is much more in-depth, using different types of documents to secure your assets. This can include a will or living will, in which you memorialize your wishes while still alive. For instance, a living will details the type of medical care you want if you become incapacitated. With an estate plan, you can designate a financial power of attorney. This is someone who can handle your finances if you are incapacitated. The designee can make transactions on your accounts, business decisions, and other financial decisions, based on what you allow. 

Estate plans can be beneficial for people with complicated finances, such as those who have been married more than once, own a business, or have specific requests for their assets, could benefit from a strong estate plan. It can also provide clarity if you are worried your wishes will not be be carried out upon death or if your children are not old enough to manage inherited assets. 

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

The biggest reason an estate plan may be disputed by members of a family or heirs involves either the personal representative of the estate or trustee of a trust in the plan not following through with their responsibilities. This is a breach of fiduciary duty. Common breaches of fiduciary duties include failing to provide required accounting and tax information to beneficiaries, improperly investing and/or using estate or trust assets for the fiduciary’s personal benefit, failing to file/pay tax returns, improperly dividing assets among beneficiaries, making improper. While these actions can be taken on purpose, for one’s own benefit, they are often due to incompetence or ignorance of what the duties are. It is vital to choose someone who will follow your instructions exactly how they are laid out. 

Will or trust contests involve someone involved in the probate process contesting the validity of a will or trust. This is another type of estate plan dispute. In a will contest, certain parties to the will may raise an objection to the will, with the idea that it does not convey the deceased person’s true intentions. Those contesting the will may make the case that the deceased was incapacitated at the time the will was drawn up, and unable to make clear decisions. Of course, not just anyone can contest a will. According to Florida probate law, only “interested parties” can make the case against a will. And they can only challenge the will for legal reasons. 

Hire a Probate Lawyer

Sometimes, disputes are raised over whether the documents in an estate plan have been executed properly. These are uncommon but can occur, especially if there are questions about how a will or trust were drawn up and signed. Holographic wills are not accepted in the state of Florida, so it is best to contact an lawyer, like those at The Mattar Firm, to ensure that all will execution formalities are met.

Disputes during the process of distributing a deceased person’s assets are never easy. Contacting an experienced probate attorney can help you through the process and work to ensure the best outcome for you and your family. The Mattar Firm can help. 239-222-2222.

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