When you agreed to serve as executor for a loved one, you may not have fully understood the responsibilities you would take on when the time came. Like most people facing probate, you may have hoped it would go smoothly. Even if you knew it would take months to resolve all the issues, you may not have considered the possibility of estate litigation.
What types of issues could lead to estate litigation?
As you contemplate the duties ahead of you now that your loved one has passed away, it may help you to understand where some potential roadblocks could come from during the estate administration process:
- Questions regarding whether the deceased lacked capacity to execute a will
- Challenges to the validity of the will
- Conflicts over who receives certain personal items
- Intentional or unintentional disinheritance of an heir
Other issues that could arise include the succession of the decedent’s business, challenges or other problems relating to a trust and more. Even the anticipated loss of a loved one can cause intense grief for many family members. During this time, old or new disagreements among family members could take centre stage in probate and could cause delays in the probate process that may ultimately require court intervention.
Not every probate will encounter the above challenges, but it only makes sense for an executor – or estate trustee – to be aware of the possibility of estate litigation. A thorough review of the circumstances at the beginning could help to identify any problem areas that could possibly be handled before they make it into the courtroom. One way to hasten this process and make it easier would be to enlist the aid of an experienced and compassionate estate lawyer from the beginning.