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Common causes of estate plan disputes

You might have grown up in an Arizona household where your family discussed everything. Perhaps your parents held family meetings to talk about important issues with you and your siblings. On the other hand, maybe your family rarely discussed anything as a group. In either case, there may come a time when you and your siblings will be responsible for carrying out tasks and duties associated with your parents’ estate plans. 

Estate plan disputes often arise to cause conflict between adult siblings after a parent’s passing. If you know what types of issues most often cause disagreement, you may be able to find a way to prevent it from happening in your own family.  

Adult children often fight over assets in an estate plan 

Arguing over assets is one of the most common causes of estate plan disputes. Especially if your parents executed wills but the terms incorporated were vague or ambiguous, you and one or more of your siblings might disagree about assets. Perhaps one of you believes you are entitled to inherit a certain asset or amount of money but another sibling believes otherwise.  

You can avoid such issues ahead of time by making sure that a last will and testament is written in clear terms with thorough detail. If your mother or father always told you, for instance, that you were to inherit a family heirloom, it’s best to write that in a will so it is clear that you are the beneficiary of the item.  

Disputes often arise when validity of a will is challenged 

If you believe that your parent was a victim of coercion or was not of sound mind when he or she signed a will, you might decide to challenge its validity. Someone else in the family might get upset about that. In fact, challenging a will is one of the most common legal actions taken regarding estate plans.  

Especially if your parent made sudden and unexpected changes to a will just before he or she died, if you think someone was threatening him or her or taking advantage of a declined cognitive condition, you may address the matter in court.  

Arguments over selling or keeping a home are also common 

Perhaps you want to sell your parent’s home after his or her passing because you believe that’s what he or she would want, but a sibling wants to keep the house in the family. If your parent didn’t specify what should happen to the house, it could spark an estate dispute that is difficult to resolve. Once again, planning ahead can help prevent this type of a problem.  

If your parent wanted to sell his or her home, they can place these wishes in writing with specific instructions, including what is to happen with the proceeds of the sale. The same is true for a business or vacation property or vehicle, etc.  

Customizing your estate plan  

Executing a thorough and solid estate plan is the easiest way to avoid estate plan disputes among family members. If your parent didn’t sign a will, his or her estate becomes intestate, which means a probate court judge will determine what happens to the assets.  

If siblings and other family members are willing to cooperate, they can alleviate much of the stress associated with estate plans. However, it’s always good to know where to seek support, in case a problem arises.  

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