The time surrounding a family member’s death can be difficult for a number of reasons. Disputes over property, inheritance, and wills can become a significant source of stress for relatives. However, getting these issues sorted out ahead of time or having a probate attorney represent your interests in court in the Destin area can help resolve the situation peacefully.
There is some general advice available online regarding how to avoid disputes before a family member’s will goes to probate court.
General tips for writing wills and estate planning
The person who owns the estate should sit down with their children and family members at some point and give an overview of what they own. They should be clear about how they want to distribute funds and real property. This will allow everyone to voice their concerns early or make changes if necessary. However, the owner of the estate should be firm in their plans and not make unexpected changes just because of a greedy family member.
Appointing an executor of the estate is also an important decision. Many times, a parent will simply choose an only child or oldest one, but it should also be someone who has the time and management skills to oversee and understand the process. This can become a labor intensive endeavor, and the executor may receive an additional fee for their services that comes out of the estate.
Gifts of valuable items like jewelry and family heirlooms should be clearly specified. These items tend to cause conflict due to their sentimental value, unless the estate is clear about where they are going.
Dividing an estate between children should normally be equal unless there is a very specific reason to give more to one sibling over another. This can be psychologically damaging, and children should not be given extra help or penalized for their success regardless of their financial situation.
Litigating probate issues
If a dispute between siblings and other family members reaches the point where litigation becomes necessary, it is important to retain a probate lawyer who can get through the process as quickly and efficiently as possible to save time and money. There are attorneys who specialize in litigating through the probate process, and they can offer specific advice and guidance based on the language of a will or other important documents and evidence.
The intent of the estate
The intent of the person who owned and distributed the estate will normally be the most important factor. Courts will normally try to carry out their wishes over objections from family members. However, documentation for wills and trusts may not be considered valid by the local courts if it was not properly witnessed and executed.
This is why an expert lawyer is also important during the process to draft a will and other testamentary instruments. For example, in Florida, when someone writes their own will this is called a holographic will and it will not be recognized as valid by courts in the state.
Talk to a local lawyer today
When a dispute over inheritance arises, contact a Destin probate litigation attorney. They can represent your interests in court and fight for the best outcome. The lawyers at ASG Legal can provide these services in north Florida.