Probate is the court process of transferring a person’s assets after they pass away from their name individually to their beneficiaries. If a person passes away testate (with a Last Will and Testament) or intestate (without a Last Will and Testament) This process can take several months or even several years. The court costs and fees alone can become quite overwhelming. This is because probate court will determine and decide how your assets will be distributed and how taxes and expenses will be paid. However, most will go through probate court uncontested. But, probate opens up an individual’s Last Will and Testament to the public. That means people can contest a will and cause further delay asset distribution. A person’s death or mental incapacity can be filed as probate litigation and create the court battles that will affect the surviving beneficiaries.
Dealing with the loss of a loved one is very difficult. Don’t let probate litigation become an added burden. Probate litigation can include, but not be limited to:
- Challenging the validity of a will
- Lawsuits against the wording of a will or trust
- Modifications in trusts, including terminating a trust
- Lawsuits brought on by beneficiaries against a fiduciary
There are a lot of factors that can lead to a higher susceptibility to probate litigation: estranged families, rivalry, and multiple marriages to name a few. Individuals that have been married more than once without having a prenuptial agreement, tend to be vulnerable to probate litigation. This is because of a misconception that their assets are separate from their marriage when in reality they become marital property. Prenuptial agreements are a great way to avoid the mixing of assets. Additionally, Life insurance trusts are beneficial in clearly delineating how to best separate the interests of the deceased’s children and the surviving spouse.
Probate court can have people reveal their rawest emotions. Due to the fact that these family matters can become emotionally charged, it’s best to plan ahead to avoid this. Estate planning can help prevent a large portion of what can be contested. Planning now means reducing the headaches that probate litigation can cause.