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5 Ways to Help Resolve Family Disputes During Probate

How to Resolve Familial Disputes During Probate

When a loved one dies, their estate undergoes a court-managed process called probate. This process ensures that the debts of the deceased are settled, and their assets are distributed according to their will.

However, familial disputes can often arise during this process because of how emotionally taxing the process can be. Below, we discuss ways to peacefully resolve probate disputes:

  1. Have an open and honest dialogue with one another. The first step in any conflict resolution is open dialogue. Family members should aim to communicate their concerns, expectations, and wishes transparently. For example, if a sibling believes that they have not received their fair share of an inheritance, it may help to have a family meeting where everyone can voice their opinions and understand each other's perspectives.
  2. Put aside grudges and past hurts. Losing a loved one can leave you and your other family members emotionally frail. In addition to dealing with grief, you and your family may also be physically and mentally drained by the probate process, which can lead to emotions running high and past hurts and grievances coming to the surface. To resolve familial disputes during the probate process, be gracious and forgiving when disputes arise.
  3. Choose an independent fiduciary. If a family member is named as the executor of the estate, conflict can arise if others believe them to be biased. An appointee can decline the appointment and recommend an independent, more neutral party to serve as executor.
  4. Consider mediation. In cases where communication alone doesn't resolve the issue, mediation could be the next step. A third-party mediator, who is neutral and trained in conflict resolution, can assist in facilitating conversations and negotiations. This professional can help parties reach a mutually beneficial agreement. For instance, if there's a dispute about the valuation of an asset, a mediator can guide the parties to agree on an independent appraiser.
  5. Litigate the matter. As a last resort, litigation may be necessary. This involves taking the dispute to court, where a judge will make a final decision. While this process can be lengthy and expensive, it might be the only means of resolution in cases of serious misconduct or fraud.

Avoiding Familial Conflict During Probate

Another great way to resolve family disputes during the probate process is to avoid the conflict altogether. Having a thorough and sound estate plan is a great way to help your family avoid conflict after your passing.

An estate plan is a powerful tool that can help families avoid conflict during the probate process. This comprehensive document outlines how an individual's assets should be distributed upon their death, providing clear instructions that leave little room for debate or disagreement. It can specify who gets what, when they get it, and in what manner.

By detailing these decisions ahead of time, an estate plan can prevent disputes over asset distribution, reduce confusion, and minimize potential tensions among family members. An effective estate plan can also designate an executor who the will-maker trusts to administer their estate objectively and efficiently. Thus, by ensuring clarity, reducing ambiguity, and nominating responsible individuals to oversee the process, an estate plan can significantly help in maintaining harmony among family members during the often emotionally charged probate proceedings.

Get Help from Our Los Angeles Probate Attorney

Engaging a probate lawyer throughout the probate process can greatly reduce the likelihood of disputes. They can ensure the will is clear and updated, expedite the probate process, validate creditor claims, and provide guidance on the equitable distribution of assets. Moreover, they can provide legal representation in case a dispute escalates to litigation.

At the Law Office of Mitchell A. Port, we handle probate cases, including probate litigation matters, and represent clients in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. Our probate attorney can help you and your family smoothly navigate the California probate process and avoid costly errors.

Discuss your case concerns with our probate attorney by calling (310) 526-3433.