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Things to keep in mind to prevent estate litigation

When a loved one is lost great sadness is a normal part of the mourning process for many. That sadness can become even more difficult to bear when a dispute regarding the deceased person’s estate arises. Disputes can take multiple forms including: trust administration, disinheritance, conflicts regarding personal items, estate administration and the validity of a will.

When such a dispute arises, because lengthy litigation can take away from the assets to be distributed, it is important to take steps to remedy the situation as quickly as possible.

Fortunately there are things that can be done to try to prevent disputes from occurring in the first place. The first is to make sure the lines of communication are open with family members. If everyone feels that the feelings he or she has regarding an estate plan are heard, it is possible that a dispute could be avoided.

Next, being organized will make things easy for those left behind. In addition to providing where documents can be found, phone numbers, financial contacts and passwords for accounts and online websites is also a good idea.

Selecting the right executor and protecting that individual from personal liability is also beneficial. The person selected should be impartial which means that it may be necessary to look outside of one’s immediate circle and select a neutral third party such as a trust company.

If you have a business, a current valuation should be maintained. It can help with a variety of things including if the business needs to be sold following the person’s death. Where businesses are concerned, it may make sense to draft more than one will--one to handle personal assets, and the other for business shares.

When an estate dispute does arise it is important to take action in a timely manner. For most people this entails working with a lawyer to resolve the matter.

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