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Common Disputes That Arise During the Probate Process

The death of a loved one is a difficult time, and the process of administering their estate can be equally challenging. It’s not uncommon for disputes to arise during probate. These disagreements can stem from various issues and can add significant complexity and time to the proceedings.

Probate involves identifying and collecting assets, paying debts and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the will or according to intestate laws if there is no will. Some of the most common disputes that arise in probate include:

  • Validity of the will — Perhaps the most frequent cause of conflict is questioning the validity of the will itself. This could involve heirs, named beneficiaries or other interested parties making claims of undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity (mental fitness to make a will) or forgery.
  • Interpretation of the will — Even if the will is deemed valid by the probate court, disagreements can arise regarding how specific clauses or terms should be interpreted. This can be particularly contentious when provisions are unclear or ambiguous.
  • Omitted heirs — If individuals believe they were unfairly excluded from the will despite having inheritance rights, they may contest the document. This can occur with spouses, children or other close relatives.
  • Executor misconduct — Beneficiaries can raise concerns about the executor’s actions, alleging mismanagement of the estate’s assets, improper accounting practices or conflicts of interest. If beneficiaries lose confidence in the executor’s ability or integrity, they might seek their removal from the role through the court.
  • Breach of fiduciary duty — Executors have a legal obligation to act in the best interests of the estate. Beneficiaries can potentially sue if they believe this duty has been breached.

Regardless of the particular issue involved, reaching out to an experienced probate attorney should be your first step if you have been designated the executor in a will. With the right legal representation, these disputes can be resolved effectively and efficiently. An attorney can also provide guidance on how to avoid future disputes and complications.

At Peggs Wheeler, LC in Wichita, we are skilled attorneys with experience handling probate and issues that arise during the process. For guidance on your particular matter, please reach out to us by calling 316-512-7853 or contacting us online.