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Your contentious family may set you up for probate litigation

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Throughout your life, you may have dreaded any family gathering. For whatever reason, it just seemed as if you, your siblings, your parents or even stepparents could simply not get along. Animosity and the desire for conflict seemed to surround every topic and linger around every corner.

Now that one of your parents has passed away, you may find yourself feeling a great deal of emotions. You may have gotten along with this parent fairly well during his or her life, and as a result, you were named executor in the will. Of course, since you know your family's propensity for conflict, you may already be steeling yourself for the conflicts that may arise during the probate process.

Family disputes

While you may hope that your family will come together during this emotional time, you may not hold your breath. After all, even when both parents were alive, you may have heard your siblings or other parties talking about the assets they believed they would get after your parent's death. If so, it may interest you to know that unrealistic expectations in terms of inheritances commonly cause conflicts during probate.

If your family did not get along well, the possibility exists that your parent did not discuss his or her plans with many members of the family. While you may have gained insight into the plan when asked to act as executor, you may face issues with other family members who were unaware of the plan's contents. For instance, your siblings may think that your parent intended to leave them certain assets when that was not the case. This type of scenario can leave room for confusion and conflict.

Face it head on

Knowing that you will likely face conflicts, and possibly litigation, during the probate process may have you dreading your duties as executor. Still, you have responsibilities that you must handle, and it may work in your best interests and those of the estate to address any conflict head on. Hopefully the contents of the estate plan will give you instruction on how to handle certain issues.

Of course, it may also prove wise to have a legal professional on your side. An attorney can help you understand your duties as executor, how to prepare for possible conflicts and the steps you can take to address challenges to the will or other points of litigation.

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