Over the past decades, probate disputes have been on the rise. When someone dies families fight with one another or with other persons over who should get the assets the deceased left behind. Even with a Will (which should make things much easier), there are disputes that may arise as well. Often times, those affected might not be aware of what they should do when they suspect some issues with the distribution and management of the deceased’s assets and estate. Luckily, we’ve created a list of four different variations and their respective solutions just for you. Please read on.
1. The Deceased Had Little Knowledge of the Will and Its Approval
This dispute arises where the deceased did not fully understand or appreciate the terms of the Will. Any suspicious instances in the terms of the Will could easily lead to the dispute. These instances could include cases where;
- The deceased did not understand the percentages normally included in the Will.
- The deceased was unable to read and the Will was not read to them before it was signed.
- The wording of the Will could be complicated hence there are suspicions the deceased would not have fully appreciated the effect of the Will before approving it.
If you’re having any suspicions of any of the above, you could be having a valid reason to take legal practice. Look for information about how the instructions of the Will were given as well as how the deceased were explained about the Will. The witnesses to the Will could also be having some crucial information that could be helpful.
However, getting this kind of information can be overwhelming when you do it on your own regardless of your lifestyle. You can hire a helping hand from a probate lawyer to advise on the relevant legal steps to follow and to represent you whenever necessary. The attorney will also help question the solicitor who made the Will to give answers to some of the questions including how the deceased were explained of the provisions of the Will.
2. Long Periods of Time Since the Last Update
A lot may change with an estate over a significant period of time. Some assets become obsolete and are either sold out or disposed of. New assets are also brought in. The problem arises where the deceased failed to update their Will for a long time. This means that some assets may be missing in the Will. This could become a cause for fights among the family members or with other persons concerning who should get some of the assets.
Such disputes normally go through the probate courts for the judge to make a ruling. You may have to hire a probate lawyer to represent you in order to increase your chances of a fair settlement of the dispute. You can also schedule periodic updates of all the estate planning documents to prevent possibilities of such disputes in the future. This way, it will be clear who gets the assets.
3. Accusations of Undue Influence
This dispute arises where the deceased was put under pressure to make the Will. In most instances, the deceased was in a vulnerable condition or was elderly. Maybe they’d a mental illness and were, therefore, reliant on the one exerting the pressure.
Such disputes are some of the most difficult to prove in a probate court. You’ll need to have copies of the deceased’s care home, social services, and medical records. Plus, perhaps all previous Wills. This is where an attorney dealing with probate disputes and elder law can come in handy. The attorney will question the witnesses to the Will and the deceased’s family and friends to help build up a picture of the case.
There could also be a possibility of undue influence even in situations where the Will was made by a solicitor and this is where injury lawyers dealing with probate law can be of help. Perhaps the solicitors can provide information on who contacted them to arrange the Will, the people present, and who gave Will’s instructions. If the instructions of the Will were given by the beneficiary or those close to them, it might raise some suspicions.
4. The Deceased Lacked Mental Capacity to Make the Will
Injuries, some medications, and dementia are some of the issues that could affect a person’s level of understanding to make different decisions. And making the Will is not an exception. There are instances where the deceased was suffering from any of these or related problems during the time of making the Will. Maybe the deceased was elderly or the Will was made when the deceased was in the hospital and perhaps in their last moments of life.
Therefore, if you’re suspecting the Will was made in a time when the deceased lacked the mental capacity to make the Will, you can consult a probate law attorney to advise you concerning the steps you should take. The attorney will ensure to obtain the medical records of the deceased and, in most instances, consult an expert to help in the preparation of a report on the capacity of the deceased.
The copies of the care homes and social services records of the deceased could also be very helpful as they can provide some insight into the deceased’s state of mind during the time of making the Will. Having an attorney help with the process will not only speed the process but will also help you ensure that you’ve gathered all the proof necessary for your case. The attorney also knows how best to handle different solicitors responsible for making the Will and the witnesses present at the time to provide information about the possible state of mind of the deceased.
In some instances, the deceased’s GP could’ve prepared their medical report on capacity by the time the deceased made the Will. In such instances, the probate lawyer will help challenge the Will by dismissing the reliability of the capacity report prepared before the day of the Will.
Probate disputes are becoming popular nowadays. Dealing with such disputes could be frustrating especially when you don’t know the proper solution to take. These are examples of the common disputes experienced and their respective solutions. You can hire a helping hand from a professional when you’re having some suspicions on estate distribution and management. The attorney will ensure you have all the necessary information and documents for the probate process. You can look out for other relevant themed blogs to learn more about probate disputes and the necessary steps to take.