There's a saying related to the fact that you cannot choose your family. Relationships between parents and children or siblings can be complex, strained and dysfunctional. Even in cases where members of a family regard one another with love and respect, disputes over a loved one's legacy, personal belongings and assets may erupt in the wake of his or her death.
Surviving heirs may decide to contest a will or trust for a number of reasons. Concerns and questions related to a loved one's competence at the time a will or trust was executed may be a factor. In other estate disputes, the actions and intent of an individual who stands to profit from a will or trust may be called into question. Regardless of the circumstances that precede an estate dispute, there are a number of factors that may result in such a dispute being waged for years.
In some probate litigation cases, those heirs involved may refuse to find a resolution based on the simple fact that each side wants to be deemed the victor. In these types of cases, however, in addition to a considerable amount of assets; time and energy are wasted for the mere sake of carrying out a personal vendetta.
Other estate disputes may stem from a strained or contentious relationship between a parent and child. For example, there have been cases where a child who did not get along with one or both parents was subsequently left out of a will while other siblings were included. In these cases, the excluded sibling may contest a will or trust in an attempt to both spite a deceased love one and gain access to what an individual likely believes her or she is entitled to.
Individuals who plan to contest a will or trust would be wise to enlist the assistance of an estate planning attorney. A legal professional who handles estate disputes can act as an objective third-party and voice of reason to ensure that a client's best interests are respected and protected and that litigation does not drag on for years.
Source: Wealth Management, "Avoid Family Feuds," Susan Hartley and Donna LeBlanc, Feb. 7, 2014