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Avoiding Inheritance Disputes

Inheritance disputes can be very complicated and often involve substantial assets. These disputes can result in long legal battles, which can be very expensive and can permanently damage family relationships. Often, these battles focus on tangible personal property and effects such as furniture, artwork and collectibles. These types of items can have sentimental value far in excess of their economic value, which is why it is important that heirs and beneficiaries take care when dividing such property. It is also important to carefully address allocations of such personal property when preparing a trust or will.

The most common inheritance dispute issues arise from a lack of clear language in a will or trust, causing confusion as to how specific assets should be distributed. Having a lawyer review a will or trust can help ensure that all issues are addressed and that the final estate plan is sound. Another issue is the inability of beneficiaries and trustees to communicate effectively. Having an experienced mediator facilitate these conversations can be helpful. This can provide a neutral setting where all parties can discuss their concerns, interests and perspectives in an open and respectful manner.

It is also not uncommon for a beneficiary to feel that the deceased did not treat him or her fairly in a will or trust. This is a very common problem and can be extremely difficult to resolve. It can also be a challenge when there are multiple beneficiaries with disparate financial situations. In this situation, a professional could help negotiate a compromise that allows the more financially stable sibling to hold onto an asset for long-term benefits while cashing out the other siblings’ share of the asset.

Sometimes, it may be necessary to have a litigation attorney involved to help enforce or defend the terms of an estate plan. This is particularly true if a fiduciary has breached their duty by misappropriating or defrauding an heir or trustee. An experienced attorney can provide invaluable counsel in these situations.

Having a competent estate planning attorney in Pasadena is an excellent way to avoid the potential for inheritance disputes after death or during the administration of an estate. It is always better to be proactive and address these issues while the person is still alive and able to make changes to an existing estate plan if there are any issues that are likely to cause disagreements.

The attorneys at Pedder Hesseltine Walker & Toth can help with all matters related to probate and estate law, including inheritance disputes. Our firm is dedicated to providing effective and professional representation. We can assess your case and advise on the best course of action to take, representing your interests every step of the way. Contact us to get started with a free consultation today. We offer a wide range of services, including mediation and arbitration, elder abuse law, probate litigation, wrongful death litigation, and personal injury and business litigation. We look forward to serving you.