What are Common Causes of Probate Disputes in Florida?
Dealing with probate after losing a loved one is emotional enough. However, when family disputes arise during probate, it can make the already stressful situation much more frustrating. It’s not uncommon for multiple family members to have strong opinions and raise challenges. When a dispute arises during litigation, it’s time to contact an experienced Pompano Beach estate and trust litigation lawyer.
Here’s a look at some of the most common disputes that can occur during probate administration of a Florida estate.
Contesting the Will
Contesting the Will is one of the most typical disputes that will arise during probate. Some heirs may feel they’ve been left out; someone might claim there are multiple Wills, etc. In some cases, there are very valid challenges to a Will that should be disputed. Not every Will dispute involves someone who feels they were left out of the Will. Most revolve around capacity or undue influence.
Some factors do make it more likely that a dispute over the Will may happen. Some high-risk factors include dysfunctional families, second or subsequent marriages, and sibling rivalry. People who have married multiple times without a prenuptial agreement are also likely to have their Estates litigated. The reason for this is that some property that people believe to be their own separate asset may have become marital property at some point. That means you may have disputes related to what belongs to the children from the Decedent’s first marriage versus those children from a subsequent marriage.
It’s best if couples can agree on who owns what ahead of time, so family members are not fighting over assets when one person passes away.
Breach of Fiduciary Duty
When someone dies, they will usually name another person as the executor, or personal representative, of their estate. This person has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the Estate’s heirs and beneficiaries.
A breach of fiduciary duty can include selling an asset for less than its fair market value, wasting the Estate’s funds, putting the Personal Representative’s needs ahead of those of the heirs, or even delaying the distribution of assets.
When a Personal Representative breaches their fiduciary duty, it can result in estate litigation. In some cases, the Personal Representative may be personally liable. If you suspect a personal representative of putting the Estate at risk, you must contact an estate litigation attorney right away.
Multiple People Claim Ownership of Assets
In some cases, the Decedent didn’t leave behind a Will, or it’s not clear on who should get certain assets. In these cases, the court will determine who gets what. If more than one person claims the rights or requests a particular asset, it can give rise to a dispute. The dispute might be between family members, but it could also be debtors who want them to satisfy a debt.
Contact an Estate Litigation Attorney in Florida
Disputes during probate can be both emotionally and financially draining. Don’t let these disputes linger and risk the assets in the Estate. Speak with an experienced Pompano Beach estate and trust litigation attorney to help resolve any disputes as quickly as possible. Contact Mark R. Manceri, P.A. today to schedule an initial consultation.