Most New Jersey estates go through probate and administration without a problem. The executor of the will or administrator of the estate handles the matter at hand, pays any outstanding debts, and the heirs receive the assets due to them. Occasionally, though, there is a hitch in the process and disputes occur, sometimes ending up in a courtroom. Some estate planning cases go to litigation for the following reasons:
- The deceased loved one did not have a will
- A family member challenges the will’s validity
- Someone has an issue with the executor or administrator
Your Loved One Left No Will
Most estate dispute cases and litigation occur because there was no will. Without a will, it is hard to prove what your loved one intended to do with their assets. Everyone involved has emotions running high just weeks after losing their friend or family member and believes they know exactly how they would want their money distributed.
Unfortunately, there is often little compromise if a disagreement arises. There are options for simple probate procedures for most estates, even if there is no will. But unless the surviving family members can agree on whether this is the best option, it is difficult to take any action. Dispute resolution or litigation sometimes seem like the only option.
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Someone Is Challenging the Validity of the Will
Even if your loved one did leave a will, there could be a challenge to its validity. You might be the party who is unsure it represents your loved one’s true desires. This is especially common when aging loved ones faced severe cognitive decline, dementia, or other similar conditions.
If a family member influenced your loved one to create a new will that differed drastically from a previous version, if they excluded beloved family members, or focused the majority of their assets to a single person or family, you may have a valid claim of undue influence.
There are many other reasons a will might not be valid under New Jersey law. We can help you understand if you should dispute the will or defend your loved one’s final wishes if someone else contradicts their estate plan.
An Heir or a Group of Heirs Has an Issue with the Administrator or Executor
Your departed loved one trusted the person they named administrator of their estate or executor of their will, or they would not have put them in that position. However, this does not mean every member of your family will extend that same trust.
If you believe the person tasked with handling your family member’s estate is dishonest or unscrupulous, you may have a good reason to dispute their actions. We can help you evaluate the situation and decide.
We can also help if you are serving as the administrator and someone challenges your abilities and ethics. We will fight to protect your reputation, resolve the dispute, and even defend you in court if necessary.
A Lawyer May Be Able to Help You Settle a New Jersey Estate Dispute
Our estate litigation team of attorneys, social workers, and a registered nurse are here to help you try to settle your New Jersey estate dispute and avoid litigation. Our lawyers have dispute resolution training and can often help resolve this type of disagreement before it escalates.
Settling a dispute out of court saves everyone involved time and money and can even help preserve relationships in some cases. Give us a call today and let us see if we can help you avoid court. If it turns out estate litigation is necessary in your case, we can represent you throughout the process.
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Avoid Litigation of Your Estate by Using a New Jersey Estate Planning Attorney
Estate disputes can destroy the relationships between surviving family members and waste the inheritance on legal fees and court costs. It is only natural that you would want to do everything possible to keep your heirs out of this type of situation after you pass away.
The best way to safeguard your estate from this type of dispute is to ensure you work with an estate planning attorney to create your plan. Creating a will is a significant first step but doing so with an online template does little to help you if someone challenges it after your death.
When we create an estate plan for our clients, we do so based on laws and best practices that can help prevent challenges and disputes.