Losing a loved one is often a painful time that unites families and friends. Each family is different, however, and sometimes fights can arise regarding how the deceased individual’s estate is handled. While it can certainly be difficult and uncomfortable to think about the best ways to avoid family fights over an estate while a person is still alive, taking the time to do this can avoid unpleasant situations as well as reduce costs for friends and loved ones. The following are the most common fights that arise among families during the estate planning process.
Someone Exerted “Undue” Control Over the Estate Owner
In a legal sense, undue influence, occurs when someone coerces an individual into making decisions that are against their wishes but in the wishes of the person who is doing the coercing. Whether it is manipulation, influence, or any other type of abuse, it is not uncommon for people to exercise this type of power over others in order to profit financially. One of the best ways that you can avoid being a victim of such coercion is to place measures in your estate planning documents to protect both you and your assets from another individual who is seeking to take undue advantage. If you suspect someone is trying to exert influence over a loved one, reach out to an estate planning attorney right away.
Arguing that Another “Authoritative” Estate Planning Document Exists
Some people end up arguing that even though an estate was distributed in a way that conformed to an estate planning document, another more “authoritative” estate planning document exists that expresses the deceased individual’s “true” wishes. Sometimes original documents or revisions can go missing, which is why it is important to keep your estate planning documents where they can be easily accessed and viewed by your loved ones after something happens to you. It also is a good idea to preserve original documents and any revisions to show your loved ones that while previous or other copies of estate planning documents exist, they do not conform to your true wishes.
The Execution of the Plan Does Not Match Someone’s Expectation
A person can structure an estate plan however they see fit. A person is under no obligation to inform others about how they plan to have their assets distributed after death. Sometimes, estate plans are carried out after a person passes away and they do not conform to how that individual would like his or her assets distributed. A person whose expectations do not match the way that an estate plan is ultimately carried out is likely to challenge the document.
Obtain the Assistance of an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
Estate planning can lead to various disputes among loved ones if not handled properly. With the assistance of a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer, you can do your best to avoid disputes over your estate plans. Contact attorney Jim A. Lyon today to schedule a free case evaluation.