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Using a Mediator to Help Solve Inheritance Disputes

When you’re already dealing with the loss of a loved one, dealing with the complexities and contention of an inheritance dispute may seem like too much to handle. This is completely reasonable. No one should have to take on so much all at one time while still grieving.

Fights About Inheritances Are Complicated and Emotional

Disputes around an inheritance easily lead to exhaustion for those who are obligated to be involved in the resolution process. It’s hard to know what the right answers are — if there is one singular right answer at all. But anyone going through this trying process should know that help is out there. It’s often a good idea to use the legal process of mediation to your advantage when these situations arise, as they, unfortunately, sometimes do.

When people pass away, they are usually referred to as the “decedent.” It’s important to familiarize yourself with the various problems that may arise with inheritances so that you’ll know which one applies to your particular situation and what to prepare for. Conflicts may arise at any time both during the process of planning a family member’s estate or shortly after their death.

Disagreements may come up between the beneficiaries of the estate and any number of family members, friends or anyone else with a claim to stake who feels entitled to something and may or may not have the law in his or her favor. In some cases, it’s unclear who is in the right. These situations, not surprisingly, tend not to go well.

There may also be conflicts when the decedent’s wishes are ambiguous because there wasn’t enough detail in the document, leaving things up for interpretation. This often leads different parties to contrasting conclusions or official documentation, and some may outright disagree with the decedent’s wishes.

Some common forms of inheritance conflict that an estate planning litigation lawyer can help to alleviate include the following issues.

Unfair Distribution of Property

This is among the most common inheritance conflicts that may arise when someone thinks that the person who passed away intended to leave him or her a particular piece of property without having any mention of those wishes in the will or trust. This may also happen when some family members or beneficiaries think that the property that the decedent owned has not been equitably or fairly distributed.

If one family member was in debt to the decedent, but the distribution of the property doesn’t take that into account, other beneficiaries may take issue with it. It may be expected that the indebted family member’s inheritance will reflect the amount he or she owed to the decedent. Oftentimes, unfortunately, when an indebted beneficiary is asked to honor his or her obligation to pay back the loan, the individual simply refuses.

Questioning the Will’s Validity

In some cases, there may be a question of whether a will is truly valid. If a person didn’t follow all the necessary formal steps during the legal process of executing his or her will, it may be possible for any party who’s interested to make a case that the will is invalid, and any inheritance specified within it doesn’t have to be honored.

Lack of Testamentary Capacity

A beneficiary may have concerns that the decedent didn’t have what’s known as “testamentary capacity” during the will creation process. Although it takes very little to reach testamentary capacity, it is sometimes possible for a concerned party to successfully contest it.

How Mediators Help

For estate disputes, contests and conflicts of all kinds, a mediator is, oftentimes, instrumental in helping the process proceed smoothly. Although this person doesn’t have the authority to make any decisions, he or she can facilitate a bridge of communication between the two parties and analyze the situation from an unbiased and professional perspective.

Contact the Knee Law Firm, LLC in Hackensack, New Jersey, today at (201) 996-1200 for an estate planning litigation lawyer you can trust. Our combined 60 years of experience in law gives us a unique and highly informed perspective on your unique case.