The settling of an estate of a deceased person is a process which involves winding up the financial affairs of the decedent, collecting assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets according to the directions set forth in a will, or in the absence of a will, according to Kentucky’s laws of intestate succession. The process of administrating an estate is called probate.
Probate disputes are not uncommon events, especially when the estate is rather large and involves large bank accounts, and several real estate properties. Disputes arise in probate for various reasons; for example, conflicts frequently arise over the disposition of a decedent’s property because one or more family members are dissatisfied with the decedent’s estate plan. Family relationships can be complicated and death may cause dormant family disputes to resurface.
Disputes can arise because family members have very different views on fair distribution of a decedent’s property. For example, one of the decedent’s children may be satisfied with his or receipt of the lion’s share because they were closer to the decedent or provided more care for an incapacitated parent while the other children may disagree with this unequal distribution.
A dispute may arise between the children of a first marriage and the spouse and children of a later marriage. Although the decedent’s children may have not seen their deceased parent in many years, they may argue that they have a right to the decedent’s property, while the surviving spouse and children from the second marriage may feel they are entitled to the majority of it.
Finally, disputes may arise between beneficiaries of a will or trust and a fiduciary or personal representative (executor or administrator). The beneficiaries may disagree with who should serve as the fiduciary, or the beneficiaries may be concerned that the fiduciary is making poor investment decisions or using the estate’s assets for his or her benefit. Beneficiaries may be concerned about the fiduciary’s property management issues under their control. If the fiduciary is also a beneficiary of the will or trust, the other beneficiaries may view this as a conflict of interest, whether real or imagined.
When people have large estates, they are more likely to be engaged in probate litigation. Probate disputes, otherwise known as estate litigation are often nothing more than “contesting a will.” Such disputes can hinge on claims of undue influence, mental incapacity on behalf of the testator, fraud, insane delusion, or disputes over who is to take over as the personal representative to administer the estate.
Disputes can affect beneficiaries and personal representatives, and there are times when an innocent person has been wronged and the most reasonable solution is engaging in estate litigation to correct the injustice. If you have a serious concern with a probate matter, you should take immediate action by contacting an Elizabethtown probate attorney from Cooper & Cooper Law Offices. Our father and son legal team has over 40 years of combined experience to offer you, and can provide you with the aggressive representation you need during this difficult time.