It is common, and in some cases admirable, for families to come together after the death of a loved one. Whether the passing comes after a prolonged illness or an instant tragedy, families need each other to honor the memory of their loved one and to begin the healing process.
But after all the well-wishes have been given and the ceremonies have concluded, families may come to odds as an estate is administered and distributed. We have seen it with a number of celebrities who have passed away in recent years (i.e. Alan Thicke, Casey Kasum, David Bowie). Given how inheritance can divide families, it is important to know exactly what can lead to probate litigation.
This post will highlight a few of the potential issues that can lead to probate lawsuits.
Financial disparities Despite what children may say about how financially stable they are, or how they are satisfied with their home or car, they do care about inheriting property or money from their parents. Because of this, disputes may arise over whether a sibling or family member should be entitled to an award of money or property.
Sibling rivalries Similarly, a sibling who could not take advantage of professional or personal opportunities because they cared for an aging parent may feel entitled to more than what they are gifted in a parents will. Essentially, a strong sense of resentment may lead a sibling to challenge what they were gifted, especially if another sibling (who did little if anything) is awarded significantly more of the estate.
Chemical dependency A sibling who is battling drugs or alcohol may be viewed as someone who is unfit to have money or property passed to him or her.
Late marriages As we saw in both the Casey Kasum and Alan Thicke legal battles, children of a deceased parent will likely challenge the inheritance of a newly married spouse especially if he or she is much younger of the deceased parent.
In light of these potential problems, an experienced probate law attorney can review your unique circumstances and offer professional advice as to how to handle them.