Estate litigation is often a result of conflicts that did to get addressed during the estate planning process. Much of estate planning involves consideration of specific family dynamics. For example, maybe one heir to an estate handles money matters particularly well, while another certainly doesn't -- or at least not yet. To protect estate assets, you can account for family dynamics with a number of estate planning items, including your will and, if you choose, a trust.
Unfortunately, the disputes between beneficiaries (or would-be beneficiaries) happen. In our experience at Hagel Lawfirm, the conflicts among the beneficiaries can happen for a variety of reasons, including long-standing disputes among family members, mental health issues and more often than not because of inappropriate or inaccurate planning. Unresolved issues related to divorce can threaten to drain estate assets through litigation.
Whether you are challenging a will or fighting someone else's challenge to a will, it is important that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible to prevent estate assets from being wasted. Estate disputes can quickly become destructive for all parties involved, and pretty soon the value of the estate may be significantly diminished.
A lawyer with experience in resolving estate disputes can explain the costs and the options for protecting your interests and settling the conflict. Those options may include out-of-court mediation or settlement or estate litigation may be the appropriate route. In any case, the method of resolving the dispute should be proportional to the value of the estate. You don't want the litigation to deplete the estate leaving little or nothing for you and your family.
Blended families are even more exposed to conflicts due to potential complexities of the family situation.
Dorothy Hagel, of Hagel Lawfirm, works with beneficiaries in Mississauga and throughout the GTA to resolve estate disputes. If you would like to learn more about these matters, then our Inheritance Planning overview is a good place to start.