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When family dynamics complicate probate

On Behalf of | May 24, 2024 | estates, wills and probate litigation |

Probate is the legal process of settling an estate after someone passes away. Even in the best of circumstances, the probate process is complex and time-consuming.

However, when family dynamics come into play, the situation can become even more complicated. This can lead to disagreements, disputes and delays in the distribution of assets.

Blended families and differing expectations

In today’s society, blended families are increasingly common. When a loved one dies, the expectations and desires of children from different marriages or relationships may clash. Disagreements can arise over the distribution of assets, the interpretation of the will or even the role each family member should play in the probate process. These differing expectations can lead to tension, mistrust and a lack of cooperation, ultimately slowing down the settlement of the estate.

Sibling rivalry and unresolved conflicts

Sibling rivalry is a common issue that can resurface during the probate process. Unresolved conflicts from childhood or long-standing resentments can fuel disputes over inheritances, personal property or even the validity of the will itself. These emotional battles can quickly escalate, causing rifts within the family and making it difficult to reach a resolution.

Contested wills and allegations of undue influence

In some cases, family members may contest the validity of the will, alleging that the deceased was unduly influenced, lacked mental capacity or that the document was fraudulent. These allegations can lead to lengthy legal battles, requiring evidence, witness testimony and expert opinions.

Disagreements over property

While the probate process primarily focuses on the distribution of financial assets, disagreements over personal property and sentimental items can be just as contentious. Family heirlooms, artwork or even seemingly insignificant objects can hold deep emotional value for different family members. When multiple people lay claim to the same item, or when the distribution of personal property seems unfair, conflicts can arise, further complicating the probate process.

Navigating the probate process is rarely easy, but when family dynamics come into play, the challenges can multiply. By understanding the potential for these conflicts and working proactively to address them, families can help ensure a smoother, less stressful probate experience.