The passing of a loved one can lead to many complicated feelings and stressful situations—not the least of which is when conflicts arise between family members regarding inheritance. No one wants to deal with heated disagreements during a time of grieving. Still, when such situations come up, it’s best to make sure they’re handled appropriately before further strain is put on family relationships.
Protecting Assets and Preserving Value
All parties involved should remind the executor of an estate that it is their responsibility to safeguard the estate’s value while its outcome is being determined. It’s not unheard of for some family members to attempt to walk off with or sell any property before the inheritance is finalized. Likewise, some heirs may try to buy out a property well below its value.
It’s the executor’s job to keep this from occurring so that fair, equitable, and legal dispersal of assets can be achieved.
When disputes over family inheritance occur, and negotiations fail to get results, leaving everyone satisfied may be time to look for an outside solution.
The least expensive option is to hire a professional mediator to help find solutions before the parties involved start getting involved with the more expensive court process. The mediator is often a lawyer who can then draw up a contract once across-the-table agreements are reached.
Going To Court
Should mediation fail, the court can handle the final estate issues. While a court decision provides some closure, it can also create tension and resentment between siblings and other family members—particularly if the court process becomes long and drawn out.
The executor is required to submit a full list of assets and any claims made upon the estate. If the executor is acting unfairly, the other named heirs can challenge it in court. The court may then appoint another executor to prevent further conflict. This is also the time to bring up any issues of impropriety conducted by any other interested parties such as caregivers or other unrelated named beneficiaries.
Otherwise, the court will review the information in hand, weigh the arguments, and determine asset dispersal based on state law regarding inheritance. This may leave some people out who might otherwise be deserving. It may over-reward someone based solely on blood relationship despite any actual warmth between the inheritor and the deceased.
Solving Problems Before They Start
The best solution for disputes surrounding inheritance is preventing them from the very start. Clear and frequent communication with your loved one while still alive will go a long way in determining their exact wishes.
Having clear instructions on distributing the estate and other assets among survivors will reduce confusion and eliminate doubt about who is supposed to get what after a loved one passes.
Not everyone will be happy, but at least it will cut down on the arguments. This will allow everyone to go through their grieving process with that much less stress.
Getting Guidance From Professionals
Whether it’s drawing up a will early or settling property and inheritance disputes later, qualified estate attorneys can reduce a lot of the stress and uncertainty of the whole process. Practical guidance and counsel can also help keep a handle on expensive court solutions and allow everyone to move on as painlessly as possible.