When many people set up an estate plan, they are relieved to know that their loved ones will receive property according to their wishes. Not only can this make it easier for families to work through the loss of someone they love, but it can be beneficial from a financial point of view also. However, there are times when things go wrong, such as when a dispute arises over undue influence. These disagreements can be costly and may also cause a great deal of emotional stress within a family, which highlights how crucial it is to prevent them in the first place or handle them with care in the event a disagreement does arise.
Sometimes, a beneficiary or someone in the family may feel that a loved one was coerced into making changes to their estate plan. However, this is not the only reason for an estate dispute. For example, a beneficiary may believe that the executor has breached his or her fiduciary duties, which can occur in many ways. A beneficiary may accuse the executor of failing to distribute an estate's assets properly, which can lead to fighting within a family. In some instances, these allegations are true, but some executors have also been falsely accused of such wrongdoing.
Whether you are setting up an estate plan or you have been named the executor and are unsure of what to do following the death of a loved one, you should move forward carefully. Our wills and trusts section has more on estate matters.