How to Avoid and Resolve Probate Disputes in Wisconsin
Probate disputes can be an expensive and time-consuming process for all parties involved. They’re often the result of a lack of clarity or miscommunication regarding the decedent's intentions. It’s therefore essential to take the necessary steps now to avoid an ugly probate dispute later. Additionally, if a dispute arises, it's critically important to understand the options for resolving it.
In this article, we'll discuss the common causes of probate disputes; how to avoid them; and ways to resolve disputes should they occur.
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What is probate?
Probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person's estate. Probate includes allocating assets and paying debts. Sadly, this process sometimes leads to disputes among beneficiaries or family members. These disputes can arise for various reasons, such as disagreements about the validity of a will or the distribution of assets.
Here are steps you can take to avoid time-consuming and costly probate disputes:
Common causes of probate disputes
Understanding the common causes of probate disputes can help you avoid them. Some of the most frequent causes of probate disputes include:
Lack of Clarity
A lack of clarity regarding the decedent's intentions can lead to disputes among family members or beneficiaries. If a will or trust is unclear or vague, it can be challenging to determine the decedent's wishes, leading to disagreements.
Undue influence occurs when someone exerts pressure or manipulation on the decedent to alter their will or trust in their favor. This can lead to disputes among family members who feel that the decedent's wishes were not accurately represented.
Invalid will or trust
If a will or trust is not executed correctly or does not meet legal requirements, it may be deemed invalid. This can lead to disputes among beneficiaries or family members about how to distribute assets.
Disagreements among family members
Family members may disagree about how to distribute assets, leading to disputes. These disagreements can be particularly challenging when there are blended families or complex family dynamics.
How to avoid probate disputes
Avoiding probate disputes starts with proper planning. Here are some steps you can take to avoid disputes:
Hire an estate planning attorney
An experienced estate planning attorney can help you create an estate plan that minimizes the potential for disputes. They can provide guidance on how to structure your estate plan to ensure your wishes are clear and legally binding.
Create a comprehensive estate plan
Creating a comprehensive estate plan can help ensure your wishes are carried out as intended. Your estate plan should include a will or trust, power of attorney, and advanced healthcare directive. It's important to review and update your estate plan regularly.
Communicate your intentions clearly
Communicating your intentions clearly can help avoid misunderstandings or disputes. If you have specific wishes regarding how your assets should be distributed, it's essential to communicate them with your beneficiaries or family members.
Ways to resolve probate disputes
If a probate dispute arises, there are several options for resolution, including:
Mediation involves hiring a neutral third party to help facilitate a resolution between the parties. This can be can be less expensive and time-consuming than litigation and helps to preserve relationships.
Arbitration involves hiring a neutral third party.
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