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What Is Inheritance Litigation?

Bochnewich April 15, 2022

Inheritance litigation is the process of an heir or beneficiary taking legal action against a third party, executor, or administrator. You may be entitled to an inheritance, but it can be complicated to get your inheritance and know exactly what you are entitled to. This can be true even if there is a will determining what each person receives. You may be entitled to an inheritance if you are named a beneficiary in a will, are named an executor of a will, or an heir of someone who passed away. If you’re in California and need help navigating inheritance litigation, you may want to seek help from an experienced attorney.

What Is the Purpose of An Inheritance Claim?

The purpose of an inheritance claim is to reconcile the inheritance due to an heir or beneficiary of the deceased person of relation. An inheritance claim can also be made against an administrator or executor of a will if they are thought to be unfit for the position. The inheritance comes from the probate estate, which is the property of the deceased.

Commonly Solved Inheritance Claims

Making sure a will is in place before passing away can help relieve some of the stress of allocating assets to family members and loved ones. Still, someone may not always be in their right mind or under the proper influence when writing their will. There are a few reasons for making an inheritance claim; you may be experiencing one or several of them.

One common reason that an inheritance claim is made is that there are largely different allocations of assets between heirs. Sometimes family drama can happen before the death of the family member, and major changes are made to the will. Any vital changes in the will right before death can be a cause for litigation or questioning. Someone may also start inheritance litigation if they feel their loved one was heavily influenced by another person in their life when writing their will. This could be someone who had power of attorney in the later years of your loved one’s life. Lastly, the intention of the loved one who passed can be questioned after death. If you’re struggling with any of these probate claims, it’s best to reach out to an experienced lawyer.

Risk of Inheritance Litigation

An experienced lawyer understands how family drama and trauma surrounding the death of a loved one can affect inheritance litigation. If there has been remarriage and children from multiple marriages, this can become a great risk factor because many relationships and assets are involved. Unequal distribution of assets can also be a risk factor for inheritance litigation, as the potentially confusing reasoning behind disparate inheritances can muddle legal matters. Understanding the risks of inheritance litigation can assist you in having a better perspective of your inheritance claim.

If you’re going through the process of writing a will, you may also want to consider these risk factors during preparation. This can help prevent your family from going through messy litigation involving their inheritance after you pass away. Lastly, make sure you have an exemplary executor that can deal with complex situations and any wording that could potentially be otherwise misunderstood. Ensuring you get proper legal help to write your will can prevent inheritance litigation in the future for your family.

Will vs. Trust

Wills are a great way to prepare your family for what should happen after you die because it is a document that states the details surrounding the distribution of your property after you have passed away. For instance, this is where many parents designate guardians for their children, debts are forgiven, and more. An executor is also chosen in a will, which is who will make sure the will is carried out with integrity. The executor also has the responsibility of paying the debts and taxes of the deceased, and this process, called probate, can be very long and costly.

A trust allows you to choose the beneficiaries of your assets, but there are distinct differences between a trust and a will. A trust has a trustee to take care of and allocate your assets after your death, which takes the place of an executor. This means that a trust does not go through the probate process and can save your family legal expenses and processes that can be drawn out. Trusts may also be less likely to go to litigation if your trustee is properly managing and allocating the trust. The downside to trusts is that they are more expensive to create and keep up. Trusts don’t allow you to choose guardianship of your children, and there are other reasons that require one to have a will and trust. A will most commonly applies to inheritance litigation.

Can Inheritance Litigation Be Solved in Mediation?

A full trial may not be necessary in the case of your inheritance litigation during the probate process in California. Solving claims in mediation can be a good way for parties to come to a mutual decision outside of court. The mediator’s job is to help compromise on any disagreements that may arise between parties. It may not be a good idea to use mediation if the other party is disagreeable or unwilling to come to an agreement. Mediation is also not the best option if there is an unequal power dynamic between the parties. Overall, mediation can be a much less stressful, involved process to handle your inheritance litigation outside of court.

Handling your inheritance litigation case with care is necessary for getting the assets to which you are entitled after a family member passes away. A will is most often used when inheritance litigation occurs, and complicated family matters can often be a large risk factor in whether inheritance litigation continues during the probate process. If you are struggling with a complex situation regarding your inheritance under California probate law, an experienced lawyer can assist you with the litigation process. Contact Bochnewich Law Offices today to receive assistance with your inheritance litigation claim.