The Common Causes of Inheritance Disputes

Disputes regarding inheritance can be complex, lengthy and emotionally demanding. If you’re considering entering into an inheritance dispute, it’s within your best interest to gain assistance from a legal professional that you trust will act in your best interest and handle your case with sensitivity.

When deciding whether or not to pursue a case, it’s important for the claimant to establish the merit of their claim and determine if the potential benefits outweigh the overriding costs they will likely endure.

Inheritance disputes don’t exclusively occur when large estates are being distributed, in fact, they will often arise even when there is little or no wealth being administered. Individuals may disagree with the division of assets that hold sentimental value, or who is responsible for the care of the deceased’s minor children and family pets. As a result of this, instigating an inheritance dispute in the hope of reaching an outcome they believe to be reasonable.

There are a number of common reasons why inheritance disputes arise prior to or when the assets of a testator are being administered. If you feel that your situation is reflective of such circumstances, we would suggest contacting experienced inheritance lawyers to discuss your options moving forward. 

Inheritance Disputes When The Testator Failed to Leave a Final Will

When an individual passes away and fails to leave behind a final, valid will then the rules of intestacy apply. This is the most common catalyst for an inheritance dispute and, as expected, in such situations conflicts in opinion often arise when deciding how the testators’ estate should be administered.

A deceased individual can also leave behind a will that is partially intestate. This is when the testator distributes some, but not all, of their estate in a valid will. Such instances may arise when the deceased’s will was written prior to the acquisition of new assets and, as such, these components of their estate have not been accounted for.

When a testator passes away either fully or partially intestate, the distribution of any assets that haven’t been included in their will is determined by the court.

By seeking out assistance from expert inheritance lawyers and creating a valid will explicitly outlining your wishes, you can avoid such future complications being experienced by your loved ones. In addition to this, you’re able to ensure that any distinct preferences of yours are conveyed clearly so that your estate is managed appropriately. 

Inheritance Disputes Arising From A Change in Circumstances 

Inheritance disputes also commonly occur when a testator completed their final will many years ago and, because of this, it is out-dated and doesn’t reflect their current situation. It’s likely that your personal conditions are constantly changing; so it’s important that you regularly update your will to reflect your present circumstances.

To avoid inheritance disputes it’s essential to ensure that your final testimonial is adjusted to reflect any major life changes you experience, such as remarrying. Sometimes, however, certain events can be difficult to account for. For instance, maintaining an up-to-date will may prove to be challenging in situations where a testators’ wealth increases or decreases unexpectedly. If you find yourself in a similar position, you may find it beneficial to gain expert assistance from an experienced inheritance lawyer.

Inheritance Disputes Where There’s Failure of Intentionality

When an individual feels that they’ve been left out of a testator’s will by accident and that, the deceased actually intended to include them; this is known as a failure of intentionality. Such cases may arise when the testator’s documentation is poorly coordinated, or if there has been a lack of communication between family members.

If an individual believes that failure of intentionality is relevant to their situation, they may choose to contest the will and enter into an inheritance dispute. In doing this, they’ll be arguing that the testator’s final will and testament is incorrect and doesn’t reflect their true wishes. In essence failure of intentionality suggests that there has been a mistake and, as such, if the claimants’ case has merit the will may be updated accordingly. 

Inheritance Disputes in Cases of Perceived Inequity

Perceived inequity occurs when a beneficiary of an estate believes that the testator’s chosen distribution of assets is unfair. In such cases, the claimant ultimately feels that the deceased has failed to provide them with adequate and proper provision and maintenance. Because of this, they contest the will and enter into an inheritance dispute with the intention of gaining what they believe they’re entitled to.

For instance a testator may have three children, one of which borrowed a significant amount of money from them that they’re repaying in instalments. At the time of the testator’s passing this child may have not yet fully reimbursed their parent and, regardless of this, received an equal share of the estate as their two siblings. An inheritance dispute may arise if they feel that, because of their sibling’s outstanding debt to the testator, the distribution of the estate is inequitable.

If you’re considering entering into an inheritance dispute, it’s important to fully understand your rights and the merit of your case. For professional guidance during every stage of your case, contact an inheritance lawyer today.

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