Family Disputes Over Estates Happen Too Often

Feuding over the estate of a loved one is a surefire way to cause separation within a family. Even within my own family there have been many arguments concerning assets that belonged to my grandfather. Not having a will or an estate plan can leave things messy, and even when a will does exist, sometimes family members do not abide by it which leads to court battles. Don’t forget that there can be time restrictions for filing legal paperwork. If you suspect something going wrong with a loved one’s estate, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. All too often, beneficiaries don’t learn all the facts until after a family member has passed and are unsure what to do then.  Presented below is just one example of what we’ve seen.

The Setup

A mother of 3 passes away having left a will equally dividing all her assets among her children except for a life estate in the home to the daughter. This means that the daughter could live out her life in that home.  After mom’s death, it came to light that her daughter was writing checks from her account to herself. The daughter was not authorized to write these checks to herself… Mom had drafted her will without ever knowing that her daughter was stealing from her. The other siblings are understandably upset, but what should they do?

Roads to a Solution

This situation is relatively common and there are ways they can work to correct it. Not much time has passed since the mother’s death, which means they are still able to take legal action within the time limits, but where to begin? Go to the bank where the sister withdrew the money from mom’s account and report the unauthorized checks. Get a copy of all estate documents, including the will. Bring the paper trail showing the use of the unauthorized checks, and all documents to a lawyer. A lawyer can examine the case and recommend a course of action.  In this case, the lawyer may recommend that the siblings take action by applying to be the representative of Mom’s estate and taking action against the daughter to recover the funds or to charge it against her inheritance.

Probate Tips

Make sure you inform yourself of how Mom’s assets were titled.  If Mom had placed all her assets in a trust or titled property as transfer on death, then assets will pass outside of the probate court. This means that you should not wait to get served or to be notified by the probate court that the assets are being distributed. Don’t waste time waiting, contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

Contesting a will? Need to create a trust, or draft a will? We can help with it all! At The Probate Pro we take pride in telling it like it is and giving our clients the best result possible. Call us for a free consultation!

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