What Causes an Inheritance Dispute?
Losing a family member is often an emotionally trying experience for loved ones, especially immediate family members such as a spouse or children. What can make a death even more challenging is when there is a dispute about how the decedent’s estate should be divided amongst surviving family members. At the office of the Cordoba Law Firm, PLLC, our experienced wills, trusts, and probate attorneys can assist you if you are involved in an inheritance dispute.
What Factors Lead to an Inheritance Dispute?
An inheritance dispute refers to a situation where a decedent’s beneficiaries or/and family members are in disagreement about how the decedent’s estate should be divided. Factors that can lead to an inheritance dispute include:
- A lack of estate planning documents. Having estate planning documents in place is critical for avoiding inheritance disputes. If a person does not have estate planning documents, then there will be no guidance for how to distribute assets. One of the most important estate planning documents to avoid inheritance disputes is a will. If a person dies without a will, then his or her estate will be subject to intestacy rules (rules set by the state about how assets are to be distributed).
- Internet Wills. Wills downloaded from the internet may or may not be enforceable under Texas law. When a there is an inheritance dispute or a will contest, attorneys and the court will parse through every sentence and phrase of the Will to ensure its enforceability. Because many Wills downloaded from the internet do not strictly comply with Texas law, it is not advisable to execute a Will from the internet.
- Will disputes. Even if a person does have a will, this does not mean that there will not be disputes about the estate. Common disputes regarding a will include:
- The will is dated and does not reflect the decedent’s wishes;
- Circumstances have changed since the will was made (i.e. a remarriage or the birth of a child);
- The decedent expressed different wishes verbally prior to death;
- The decedent leaves property to someone other than their spouse;
- The decedent is on a second marriage and does not leave assets to the decedent’s children; and
- The will is not valid because it fails to comply with the Texas Estate Code and Texas law.
- Perceived inequality. Finally, one of the most common reasons that there may be inheritance disputes is in the event that there is any perception of inequality. For example, if a decedent with two children leaves one child significantly more assets than the other, the child who receives less may raise a dispute regarding the distribution of the estate.
Protect Yourself from Disputes
There can be peace and comfort in knowing that once you are gone, your family members will be able to handle issues related to your estate peaceably and will all be adequately provided for. One of the best ways to mitigate disputes that could arise over your estate is to create a thorough and detailed estate plan. Your estate plan should include, at the very least, a will, powers of attorney, an advance directive, and, if appropriate, a trust.
Call Our TX Estate Planning Lawyers in Texas Today
Whether you want to make an estate plan or you have questions about how to resolve an inheritance dispute, our inheritance and estate planning lawyers in Texas can help. To learn more, please call our office today or send us a message requesting information. We are prepared to answer your toughest questions, and always make client satisfaction a top priority.