Losing a loved one has a significant impact on the whole family. Goodbyes are the most challenging and most painful when you know it’s for good. You can never truly prepare yourself for the sudden onslaught of emotions that come after. Grief, especially, is a sign of unexpressed love and wishing you were given more time with the departed.
Part of the aftermath of the passing involves dealing with what is left. Valuable possessions, money, business, assets, properties, and personal items are often given to next of kin, heirs, or beneficiaries. Often, this causes family inheritance disputes, especially when the deceased’s will is challenged by a relative who believes they’re entitled to be part of the inheritance succession.
When this occurs, mediation is always the first choice for initiating peaceful negotiations between involved parties. However, when you cannot settle things amicably, a Family Provision Claim is an excellent option to contest the will and guarantee a fair and just outcome.
Common Causes Of Family Inheritance Disputes
Absence Of Will Upon A Family Member’s Death
Intestacy is the legal term for an absence of a will upon a family member’s death. Total intestacy is defined as when a person passes without a valid will of any kind. In contrast, partial intestacy is an incomplete or drafted will that doesn’t clearly state the proper disposal of assets and properties.
The general intestacy laws declare that the spouse has primary rights to inheritance and estate distribution. The next will be the children, and the rest follow a hierarchy order.
A Family Member Is Left Out Of The Will
A family member being left out of the will is one of the most common causes of a family inheritance dispute. An estranged child or sibling may challenge the legal will in court when he sees he has the rights and is entitled to inheritance.
Another reason could be an overlooked error or a hidden anomaly in the making of the will that leads to the exclusion of a relative.
Disagreement Over The Will
Personal items, valuable possessions, businesses, assets, and properties may not be equally divided among the spouse, children, and other surviving family members.
An individual or group of individuals may question the will, ask for legal re-evaluation, and take the matter to court.
The Deceased Had a Compromised Mental Capacity When They Wrote The Will
Some people write their will under time pressure due to a sudden illness or accident, which often causes a decline in mental capacity. When reasoning is compromised, they can be unaware, biased, or forced to make an unjust inheritance distribution.
There Is Undue Influence, Biased Decision, Or Forced By A Third Party
Family feuds may result in unjust estate distribution due to a biased decision, undue influence, or forced by a third party.
How To Resolve Family Inheritance Disputes
Family mediation and amicable settlement are always the first choices in resolving family inheritance disputes. Set an open forum meeting to discuss and solve pressing matters. An unbiased family member can act as the mediator or arbitrator and suggest negotiation terms.
Emotional damage can be irreversible and painful, so all parties involved must reach an agreement. This approach also ensures that the family doesn’t spend money on lawyer fees and court proceedings.
Family Provision Claim
A family provision claim is an approach in which a lawyer will evaluate you if you are eligible to contest the will in court. Some of the factors taken into consideration include the following:
The Relationship With The Deceased
A relationship with the family member, may it be a spouse, child, sibling, or parent, is a highly considered factor. However, it may not guarantee a favorable ruling in court.
The Overall Need For Monetary Support
A favorable decision is made when you’re declared as someone who needs significant monetary support from the deceased’s funds. In its absence, it may place you under financial restraints and struggle. Another set of grounds is whether you have a physical or mental disability or are very ill.
An Individual’s Financial Situation In Comparison To Other Inheritors
Suppose it’s established that you are in greater need of monetary help. In that case, your part in the inheritance may be altered to relieve you from any financial burden. However, the increase shouldn’t significantly affect the share of other inheritors.
If The Deceased Has An Unpaid Debt To You
There can be a settlement if the deceased owed you. Unpaid debt is a ground for challenging a will in court. An additional basis is if you’ve been the primary caregiver who has given the deceased a significant amount of time, effort, and care.
Liquidate All Assets
One way to solve a family inheritance dispute is to liquidate all assets and divide the proceeds to all the inheritors. The primary next of kin or beneficiary stated in the will may acquire a more significant share than the rest of the descendants.
Hire a Professional Mediator
Hiring a professional mediator can be beneficial for everyone involved. A mediator has adequate knowledge of the current laws and processes on resolving family inheritance disputes. They can help the family come to a final agreement and settle it legally.
Losing a family member is heartbreaking, and it takes time to heal from it. Further emotional stress and damage can happen when family inheritance disputes arise, so it’s vital to address the pressing familial issue right away to allow time for grieving.
Family mediation and amicable settlement are always the considered choices in any family dispute. However, when parties involved still don’t agree, it’s wise to seek other options such as a family provision claim, asset liquidation, and hiring a professional mediator.