Probate Provides an Opportunity to Resolve Disputes About the Estate of a Deceased Person, but Better Solutions Are Available
When you are the personal representative of the estate of a deceased person, probate can feel like an unnecessary burden. For example, why do you have to wait a minimum of three months before you can collect any of the money that the deceased person left to you in his or her will? Why is it necessary to publish a notice in the newspaper? In fact, the purpose of the probate is to be fair to everyone, and that includes estranged relatives, creditors, and despised stepmothers alike. Probate gives everyone a chance to resolve their disputes, but the best way to deal with probate disputes is to prevent them from happening in the first place. A Hillsborough County probate lawyer can help you deal with probate disputes before or after they arise.
How Do Objections Happen During Probate?
To start the probate process, the person who is named in the will as the personal representative of the estate (an old term for this role is “executor of the will”) submits a petition for probate, attaching the will to the petition. If there is no will, or if the will does not specify a personal representative, then probate still begins with submitting a petition. The personal representative, whether listed in the will or appointed by the court, must publish a notice in the newspaper saying that the estate is open. He or she must also notify all interested persons, meaning everyone named in the will, plus all close family members not named in the will. Once the estate is opened for probate, there is a mandatory 90-day waiting period before any assets can be distributed to the heirs according to the provisions of the will.
The purpose of this waiting period is to give creditors, or anyone else, a chance to argue that they, in addition to or on instead of the beneficiaries listed in the will, are entitled to receive money from the estate. These are some issues that might arise:
- Disinherited relatives might argue that the will is a fake or that the deceased person was manipulated or coerced into signing it (undue influence)
- A surviving spouse who receives little or no money according to the will might claim his or her elective share of the estate (up to 30 percent)
- There might be a dispute over who should be the personal representative of the estate
- If the deceased person spent only part of the year in Florida in his or her final years, some family members might argue that another state, not Florida, is the proper venue for probate
Whether you are the personal representative of an estate or an unjustly disinherited family member, it is best to have a probate lawyer represent you in a dispute.
Tampa Probate Lawyers Are There When Inheritance Disputes Get Messy
A Tampa probate lawyer can help you resolve and prevent inheritance disputes in your family. Contact David Toback for a consultation on your case.