When a loved one passes away and leaves behind assets, the estate administration process begins. This procedure involves paying debtors and distributing assets to beneficiaries and heirs. As this process involves family, money and property, it can sometimes be contentious.
Probate administration can lead to family arguments and legal showdowns. Here are a few of the most common types of probate disputes.
The executor does not want to or cannot serve
A will designates an executor (or personal representative) to be in charge of managing the estate. There can be various issues with the executor. This person may not be willing to take on this responsibility. Perhaps he or she is unable to fulfill the duties due to a disability or illness. When something like this occurs, the probate court may need to determine who to appoint as the executor.
Allegations of the executor breaching fiduciary duty
The executor has a legal obligation to carry out the wishes of the decedent as laid out in the will. Unfortunately, not every executor is trustworthy. Some executors may enrich themselves or favor certain beneficiaries over others. The beneficiaries may be able to remove this person if there is evidence of wrongdoing.
Claims of undue influence of the decedent
If a beneficiary is shocked about something included in the will, there may be suspicions of someone inappropriately influencing the decisions of the deceased. When there is a convincing argument of undue influence, the probate judge may invalidate portions or all of the will.
Accusations of a lack of sound mind when drafting or signing the will
For a will to hold up in court, there must be confidence that the decedent had the proper mental capacity to understand the drafting of the document. If a beneficiary can provide proof of a lack of testamentary capacity, the validity of the will may come into question.