Do You Need a Lawyer to Help You Resolve These Common Probate Disputes?
If you are in the habit of viewing everything through a lens of gratitude, then you might consider it an honor to be the personal representative of a family member’s estate. Your spouse, parent, or sibling trusted you to follow his or her wishes as listed in the will, and you are more than happy to do it. How easy your job will be as the personal representative will depend on how thorough the decedent’s estate plan was. If your dad reviewed his will every year with an estate planning lawyer and made some of them non-probate assets, it should be relatively painless; it is never easy to lose a family member, but the probate process will not make it worse. If, on the other hand, you were the only child not to be estranged from your parents, you could be dealing with your siblings claiming to be unfairly disinherited. Likewise, if you never forgave your stepmother for refusing to sign a prenup, you might be steeling yourself for a battle when she tries to claim her statutory share as a surviving spouse. Here are some types of disputes that frequently arise in probate court, and depending on their complexity, you might want to hire a Central Florida probate lawyer.
Conflicting Versions of the Will – Maybe
People who write a will when they are relatively young often write a new version later on. Changes to their family or financial situation, such as divorce, remarriage, acquisition of real estate property, or the birth of grandchildren, warrant a rewriting of the will. If your deceased relative wrote one version of his will in 1985 when he was 45 and married to his first wife and had one child and another version in 2015 when he was 75, married to his second wife, and a father to four grown children, it is obvious which will to follow. If there is a question of undue influence about a recent will, though, you need a lawyer.
Undue Influence – Yes
Sometimes the paperwork doesn’t tell the whole story. If the decedent signed the will under duress, you can challenge the will. For example, there is reason to suspect undue influence if your childless aunt originally left equal shares of her estate to each of her nieces and nephews, but she moved in with your cousin, her nephew, a year before her death while she was suffering from dementia and subsequently changed her will. Undue influence disputes are not pretty, and you will need a lawyer to help you make your case.
The Decedent Didn’t Leave a Will – Not Necessarily
Florida’s laws of intestate succession make the decedent’s closest relatives the heirs to his or her estate. If there is no will and someone wants to challenge the distribution of assets according to the laws of intestate succession, they have to have a good reason.
Contact Us Today for Help
If your family feuds have only gotten worse since the family matriarch died and are now playing out in court, a Tampa probate lawyer can help. Contact David Toback for help with your case.