The legal world can be confusing, and navigating it can feel especially difficult when you are experiencing the loss of a loved one. Sometimes, the powerful force of grief can bring out the worst in a family. However, one of the primary tasks families face when a loved one passes is a sensitive one that can affect many people on a personal level: determining the division of assets between the beneficiaries.
In some cases, when a person passes away, a will clearly determines where each asset needs to go. In other situations, there can be a lengthy and potentially ugly legal process to distribute their assets to all named beneficiaries. Fortunately, estate litigators can make this process easier. These legal professionals can explain your options regarding your late loved one’s estate and help to bypass contention within your family.
It would seem that carrying out a late loved one’s wishes would be fairly straightforward. After all, a will should spell out specific instructions. Yet, this is not always the case. Wills are not always as clear as we would like them to be, and there can be confusion surrounding what the deceased wanted or meant. In some cases, there is no will to be followed at all. In other situations, one or more family members may try to contest the will. This must be done shortly after your family member passes away, and it can only be done for very specific reasons.
A will can be contested for a finite amount of reasons. In fact, there are only four legal reasons that one may contest the contents of a will. These include:
Family members contest wills all the time. Sometimes, it is done out of genuine concern for the deceased’s wishes and wellbeing. In other situations, contests occur because of greed.
As you can imagine, learning your loved one’s wishes and arguing over the validity of the will can put a significant strain on family units. These arguments can get heated and personal, and even the kindest of families can find themselves in difficult situations. This is where an estate litigator comes in.
Estate litigators are in charge of carrying out the wishes spelled out in the deceased’s will. This provides families with an impartial third party who can help decipher what should be done with the assets in question. In some situations, an estate litigator can see the terms clearly when others cannot.
Because wills are not always clear—and because they are sometimes contested—these situations can go to court. Like most forms of litigation and legal activity, going to court or trial for estate matters is fairly expensive. It is not uncommon to pay upwards of $10,000 on the process of estate litigation, if it goes to court. This does not mean that you should not contest a will that you believe is not valid. It does mean that, if you are a beneficiary of a will that is being contested, you should hire a good estate litigation attorney.
If you have a good litigation attorney, there are options for this process other than litigation. As we mentioned, litigation is often expensive and lengthy. Not to mention, it can sometimes bring out the worst in people. If you have a good estate litigator, you may not need to go to court. Frequently, families are able to resolve issues outside of court, through mediation or settlement. This saves a significant amount of time, money, and heartache. In order for this to work, however, all parties must be interested in negotiating and amenable to allowing the estate litigator to do their job.
Whether you are drafting a will or are trying to decipher one as a beneficiary, it is best to hire an estate litigator to handle your case. There is nothing worse than grieving the loss of a loved one and watching your family turn on one another for the sake of money or other assets. During times of high emotion, having an impartial and level headed third party is invaluable.
In all legal matters, it is ultimately best to have an attorney by your side. Many people avoid lawyers because they believe that hiring one will end up costing them more money. In almost all cases, however, having an attorney achieves better results from the case. For example, if your attorney is able to keep your estate litigation case in mediation, rather than having it go to trial, you can save thousands. If your case does go to trial, judges and juries look kindly on those with attorneys, and those without often end up with less favorable results.
Here at Sweeney Law, we do things differently. With only a single founder and legal practitioner, you can be sure that you will get the personalized legal attention that you deserve. Our firm will be with you every step of the way throughout your toughest estate litigation and probate situations. This area of law is our passion, and we strive to make each of our clients feel cared for during difficult times. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, contact us today.