When others in your family have a complaint about your loved one’s will or general estate plan after their death, it puts you in a difficult position as the executor. You need to do what you can to distribute the state according to your loved one’s wishes, but you can also be understanding of the complaints that others have.
Common probate disputes that come up include conflicts over the will, complaints about how long ago the will was adjusted and issues with promises made that were not kept in the will. All of these problems may result in issues if the parties who are angry file a will contest or take other action to prevent the distribution of assets.
How can you handle probate disputes outside of court?
One thing to keep in mind with probate disputes is that you have some power to resolve issues outside of court. While someone could challenge a will in court, you could avoid that by listening to the problem and seeing if there is a resolution that would be satisfactory to both sides of the argument.
For example, if you know that party A and party B both took care of your loved one before their death but party A was left with $1,000 and party B was left with $50,000, you might want to have a chat about why that might have been and if that was intentional. Reasonable siblings in similar circumstances may agree to have the money paid out as directed and then split the difference without having to involve the court.
Similar issues, like conflicts over who receives items from the parent or loved one’s home, may be resolved by looking at what people received and if there is a way to resolve the conflict without having to involve the court. For instance, if your cousin was told that they’d be able to receive the extra vehicle that your mother had and you know that your mother agreed to that and spoke about it before, you may want to distribute that vehicle to the individual even if it was initially assigned to you in the will.
Sometimes, a lack of updates to a will can cause problems, or verbal agreements aren’t covered in a way that informs everyone about your loved one’s wishes. Families that can be practical may be able to resolve these disputes without going to court through mediation, arbitration or just by agreeing on a different arrangement.