Probate litigation cases in America are not that simple and can be stressful for family members. From the moment the estate executor files a petition with the probate court to the final hearing, the petition filing process involves several steps and challenges.
This blog discusses the 5 common probate litigation challenges and what you can do to protect yourself.
1. Probate Process Is Lengthy
The probate process can be quite lengthy, which can be tough on families who are already going through the grieving process. The legal process can be burdensome, even for families with smaller estates. Even when the lawful estate holders might urgently need the inheritance, the probate process can still take up to two years in California due to the current backlog in the court system. However, the process can be completed in a timely manner with the help of
a lawyer that specializes in probate law.
2. Lack of planning
Probate litigation cases present a number of challenges. One of the most common is a lack of planning. This can often be due to the fact that the estate has not been adequately managed or that there has been a lack of communication between the parties involved. This can often lead to a situation where the court is forced to step in and make decisions that may not be in the interests of the parties involved.
Another common challenge that can be faced in probate litigation is the issue of jurisdiction. This can often be difficult to resolve, as there may be multiple states involved or even countries. This can often lead to a case being delayed or even dismissed altogether.
3. Creditor claims
Probate litigation is a complex area of law. One of the biggest challenges faced by attorneys who handle probate litigation cases is creditor claims. These claims can be filed against an estate by anyone to whom the deceased person owes money. Any of the following institutions can file these claims.
- Credit Card Companies
- Medical Providers
- Internal Revenue Service
These claims can be complicated to deal with and can stretch a probate litigation case for months or sometimes even years. To determine the validity of the claims, the court must look at the documentation supporting the claim and decide if it is valid under state law.
There are two possible scenarios.
1) The deceased person’s heir wins the case but eventually loses a lot of time.
2) The deceased person’s heir loses the case, which means a significant reduction in the final amount.
Another challenge arises when there are many creditor claims. The difficult task is evaluating their priority and determining which claims should be paid first. Moreover, creditors are also entitled to receive interest on the due payments. The laws on interest rates can vary from state to state and require the expertise of a probate litigation attorney.
4. Sibling Rivalry
Another challenge in the probate litigation case is the distribution of money when the siblings have ongoing disputes against them. These conflicts can have several reasons, such as different personality types, poor decision-making behavior, greed, jealousy, competition, socio-economic pressures, and so on. In such cases, a lack of mutual cooperation can harm the case, with each sibling vying for a more significant portion of the estate.
For example, one sibling may simply feel that they deserve a larger share as they handled all the medical expenses of the deceased in their final stage. Resolving these challenges can be difficult without the help of an experienced probate litigation lawyer.
5. Disputes Among Co-executors
Having multiple executors can lead to conflicts between co-executors. This may delay the probate process. Conflicts can arise for a variety of reasons, particularly between co-executors, including:
- Co-executors feel they do most of the work.
- Long-running disputes that may be unrelated to real estate.
As you can see, there are many challenges to probate litigation cases – the complexity of the contested wills, trusts, estates, and creditors. Without legal understanding, family members of the deceased can find it extremely tough to complete the process. If you do not want to undermine your case, it’s best to hire a probate litigation attorney and ensure the success of your case.