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Maumee Probate Litigation Blog

Top reasons to challenge a will

Typically, all but one percent of wills go through the probate process without a problem. This is because courts generally take the stance that a will is in the decedent's voice and conveys his or her final wishes. And, since that individual can no longer speak about those wishes, Ohio courts will usually stand by the document. This can make challenging a will very difficult.

If you plan to challenge a loved one's will, for instance your father's, then certain grounds must exist. In other words, you must have a valid reason to bringing forth a challenge. To find out some of the most common reasons for challenging a will, read further.

Undue influence: Don't let it cost you an inheritance

For as long as you can remember, your father always told you that you'd inherit the estate. You're an only child, and you have been there for him during his time in need.

When your father passed away, you prepared to take over the estate and to take care of business. You were shocked, and rightly so, when you discovered you hadn't inherited anything. Instead, your father had willed away the estate to someone who cared for him in the nursing home. You suspect that something isn't right, and you may be correct. Undue influence on a person can result in changes to wills or trusts, and it can make it hard for you to inherit what is rightfully yours. Fortunately, you can contest the will if you believe that your father was influenced to change it prior to his death.

These 3 tips help you find hidden or missing assets

One of the things that can make moving on after a loved one's death difficult is being unable to locate his or her assets. When you can't locate assets, it could make it hard to finalize the estate plans. It could also mean that someone has taken advantage of your loved one, which is something you want to clear up right away.

How can you locate a decedent's hidden or missing assets? There are a few different things you can try including looking at your loved one's personal paperwork, safes and other potential hiding spots.

Take these steps to avoid an inheritance dispute

The last thing anyone wants to see happen after your death is an inheritance dispute. You want to leave behind something for your beneficiaries, and having them fight among themselves is not your idea of how your family should treat one another.

There are a couple things you can do to help your family avoid disputes. With the help of your attorney, you can make sure there's as little risk of a dispute as possible, so your family can receive what you wanted to gift to them and focus more on their emotional healing.

Breaching fiduciary duty: Beneficiaries have a right to act

You create a trust knowing that someone has to carry out the duties of the trust after you pass away. That individual has a fiduciary duty to you, your beneficiaries and the trust itself. You expect that individual to make good decisions and to engage in acts that grow the trust or dole it out fairly.

If a trustee does not work in the beneficiaries' best interests, it's said that the individual is in breach of his or her fiduciary duties. If a person breaches his or her duties, that individual could face a lawsuit from the parties affected by the breach.

Determining a lack of capacity in estate disputes

Your father got older and had to move into a nursing home. You already knew he had a will, and he had set up a trust for your children, his grandchildren. You thought everything was ready and prepared, but when your father passed away, you were shocked to find that the trust had been altered and placed into the name of a worker at the facility where he was treated.

How could that happen? Your father had dementia, and there is no way he had the mental capacity needed to make that decision. What can you do?

Was a financial claim filed against your loved one's estate?

When your loved one dies, his or her estate will go through the probate process. If there's a will on file, after probate, the executor of the estate will distribute the assets according to the distribution plan laid out in the will. If there's no will on file, the assets will be divided according to Ohio intestacy laws.

During probate, creditors to whom the deceased owed money may file claims against the estate for money owed. Let's say a lender comes forward and claims your deceased father owed him or her $200,000 related to a business deal. Whether the estate pays the claim depends on its viability.

Siblings agree to sell family business in trust litigation

The death of a parent is never easy. When significant assets are involved, siblings may have disagreements over how the family legacy should be handled. Even when a parent has created an elaborate plan to pass the family company and other assets on to the children, heated disputes may erupt into litigation. Our Toledo area readers may have missed a story from another Great Lakes state that highlights how a detailed estate plan may not always protect against sibling rivalry.

The patriarch of the family took great care to create a will and various trusts to provide for his children, as well as the wife of one of his sons who had passed away. He also created a charitable foundation in honor of his late wife. His estate documents provided the charity with a $4.5 million gift.

Top five reasons family members fight in probate court

The death of a loved one is never easy. When the family member leaves behind an estate with unfinished business, the sorrow of death is only compounded. While the reasons family members fight in probate court are complex and varied, these are the top five, according to Wealth Management:

1. Local Family Member vs. Distant Family Member

When one family member is local to the deceased and another is distant -- whether emotionally or physically -- the local family member tends to feel entitled to a larger portion of the estate. Some may even attempt to be added to checking accounts under the guise of convenience when in actuality they are attempting to gain control over the person's finances.

Executor mistakes can adversely impact your inheritance rights

In a perfect world, administering an estate should be a seamless process that runs efficiently from start to finish. Unfortunately, many people who are appointed as the executor of an estate have no experience with the process. Mistakes can arise during the probate process - some with little consequence, others that lead to profound probate disputes.

Executors have specific tasks and duties to attend to during the administration of an estate. Gathering assets, obtaining fair values, paying debts of the estate and distributing assets are among the most well-known duties. At any stage of the probate process, problems or mistakes can adversely impact the value of the estate or the rights of beneficiaries or heirs.

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