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.
2. The “Late-In-Life Spouse” Takes Over
No one blames a person for taking a spouse later in life, but these late-in-life spouses are often at the root of probate problems. The truth is, there are some young people who prey on the loneliness of the elderly in order to have access to their estate once they pass on. Will contests tend to spring from last-minute changes to the wills, undue influence on the estate holder, and any changes to exclude certain family members. These tend to be more common with late-in-life spouses in the picture.
3. Multiple Marriages And Blended Families
Second marriages, children from previous relationships, and step-children often complicate seemingly simple estate distribution. While many spouses create wills that intend to divide assets evenly amongst all children upon the death of both spouses, it often requires a transfer of all of the assets from one spouse to the other upon one of their deaths. If the remaining spouse loses touch with their step-children, or becomes estranged from the deceased’s biological family, it becomes difficult to carry out the original intent of the will.
4. The Opportunist Caregiver
In the absence of a relative to care for the elderly family member, they often turn to caregivers near the end of their lives. As a result, many decide to sign some or all of their estate over to caregivers instead of to estranged family members. While many caregivers have pure intentions, this relationship opens the door for opportunists to harangue the individual.
5. Assets Were Concealed
Refusing to deliver assets that someone has inherited is against the law. That does not mean people don’t try to hide money or property during the execution of the deceased’s will.
While some probate disputes can be solved without litigation, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced litigator who is well versed in Ohio probate law.