Common Disputes in Florida Probate Matters
There’s a common misconception that disputes over estates during probate are limited to the wealthy and those with big asset portfolios. The truth is, many families have disputes, even when there is little to no wealth involved. Disputes can arise over a prior will saying something different, who is taking the family pet, what personal items are being distributed to whom, and so forth. Attempting to handle these on your own can be challenging, which is why it’s important to have a Florida probate attorney to help guide you through the process.
Common Types of Disputes in a Probate
The most common types of disputes between beneficiaries can be categorized in several ways. These include:
A Perception of Inequity: A perception of inequity is where family members are included in the will, but they feel like they have been shortchanged. One example is when a relative takes care of an elderly relative and uses his or her own assets and finances to help fund for the care. When the relative passes, it is discovered that the deceased left all beneficiaries an equal share in the estate. Although the estate was divided equally, one beneficiary still feels it was an inequitable split.
A Failure of Intentionality: This is where you can cue the drama, and everyone is gathered in the attorney’s office for the reading of the will. At least one family member is left out and begins to protest that the decedent didn’t intend to leave him or her out of the will. There can be a million reasons for this, including miscommunication, failure to update estate plans, other family circumstances like a divorce or adoption, or undue influence.
Wrongful Acts: Wrongful acts can occur during or after the decedent’s life. After a loved one passes, you may discover that the decedent was mistreated financially during their lifetime. This is typical of a situation where a healthcare worker convinces an elderly patient to sign over power of attorney. The healthcare worker then drains the decedent’s bank account, but no one is aware of it until a formal accounting and inventory of assets is completed. It can also come from an executor breaching their fiduciary duty and overcharging for services, mismanaging assets, etc.
Mediating an Estate
Trying to resolve disputes between beneficiaries, especially family members, can be challenging. One option is to mediate the outstanding matters. Some disputes that are eligible for mediation include:
- Dispute over property division;
- Disputes between beneficiaries of a trust;
- Disputes on what a beneficiary should receive based on taking care of the older relative;
- Differing views on how the estate should be divided;
- A dispute between family members and a healthcare facility;
- Disputes between children of a first marriage and a surviving spouse of a later marriage;
- Disputes over last minute changes to a will, trust or deed.
Contact a Florida Probate Attorney
If you have an estate that needs to be probated or you have questions about resolving disputes between family members, it is important to speak with a skilled Florida probate attorney who has the knowledge and experience to provide expert legal advice. Contact the Law Office of Larry E. Bray, P.A. today at 561-571-8970 to schedule a consultation. Let one of our knowledge probate attorneys help you resolve any outstanding disputes between beneficiaries in a probate matter.