When you pass away, the property that you leave behind will be referred to as your estate. After you have passed away, there might be a fierce battle over who is allowed to have your estate, and how you plan your estate with an estate planning lawyer will affect how this process will go.
Examples of Litigation
One example of litigation is when a creditor alleges that the estate has a debt and sues the estate for compensation. An estate would be used to pay off any debts before any assets would be distributed to heirs. However, other parties might argue that the debt isn't accurate. For example, the debt might be too old or may have already been paid off.
Even with a will, there might be litigation. For example, those who are named in the will or those who you write out of your will might later argue that you were under duress or were not of sound mind when you wrote the will. Regardless of whether the claimant has a good case, everyone has a right to file a claim.
Filing a Claim
After filing a claim, the executor of the estate can approve of or deny the claim. After a denial, the party may petition the court and this would lead to estate litigation.
Ways to Reduce Estate Litigation
One way to avoid litigation is to settle as many debts as you can. Many creditors are willing to settle a debt for less than what it is worth. You will also want to speak with an estate planning attorney about how you can avoid litigation and family disputes.
Great estate planning, such as a clear will, can reduce the odds of estate litigation. Many individuals who plan their estates on their own fail to properly fill out the beneficiary designation form.
You may also create a situation that triggers litigation if you give your oldest and most responsible child joint ownership of your home. If this is the case, even if you intend for your children to all receive a portion of the proceeds of the sale of the home, the house automatically goes to the oldest child.
What to Say to an Estate Planning Attorney
Make sure to clarify your goals when planning your estate. That way, your attorney can inform you about the steps you should take and will help you draft any necessary documents.