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Estate Dispute Attorney
Estate Disputes and How to Resolve Conflicts


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Estate Dispute Attorney:  Hess-Verdon & Associates

How to Resolve Conflicts

 The death of a loved one plunges the family into pain and sometimes endless estate disputes. Call Hess-Verdon estate lawyer for speedy and confidential estate dispute resolution. We can also help with estate planning to prevent these conflicts in the future. 

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Common Inheritance Issues 

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Conflicts can be of all kinds, including inheritance issues with siblings or creditors. Many of these conflicts are difficult to anticipate, and sometimes the decedents will resurrect buried resentments. 

Fortunately, the majority of probate cases are easy to resolve. Through mediation and arbitration, the fighting heirs can find common ground. If neither of these collaborative approaches works, litigation may be necessary. 

Silence of an heir 

Anyone named in a will must accept, renounce or take a portion of the allotted asset. The silence of an heir can block property distribution. Without a response, silence cannot be interpreted as an acceptance, and consequently, it makes it hard to validate sharing formulae or manage jointly owned property. This silence can stem from a family conflict known to all or latent and not expressed for some time. 

Solution: The Will executor should take the Will to probate court for validation. Once the probate courts approve its validity, property distribution follows soon with or without consent from the silent heir. Unclaimed assets go to the state. 

Disputed executor

It is mandatory to go through probate to settle an inheritance, and for that, there needs to be an executor. The latter is named in the Will or appointed by the court if the decedent died intestate (without a will). If one or all the heirs don’t like the choice or contest the executor’s actions, that can grind all estate distribution operations to a halt. 

Solution: Beneficiaries disgruntled with an executor have the legal freedom to sue for their latter’s removal. Executors can also work with estate defense attorneys to block such cases. However, before probate litigation, mediation and arbitration are highly recommendable. 

Blocked liquidation

After death, some of the deceased’s property (a house or piece of land) may be distributed in joint possession among their heirs. Each heir, therefore, gets a share of all the property. 

In this context, the management of the property is subject to joint ownership. And therefore, if within the framework of the law, it is decided by one of the heirs to sell a property, they cannot do so without consent from all the other heirs.

Solution: Petition to partition. The heirs involved must first try to work out the issues amicably. If that fails, a foolproof solution is filing a partition lawsuit. The courts might order a partition by the sale-for indivisible assets such as a home or partition by kind-for divisible assets such as land. 

Contested Will

Heirs and beneficiaries can question the validity of the Will or recent changes to it before the decedent’s passing. The inheritors may also challenge the asset distribution formulae laid out in the Will, triggering a brouhaha of sibling rivalry. 

Solution: The will executor can work with an estate lawyer to protect the Will’s validity and contents. The disgruntled heir can work with an estate litigation attorney to invalidate the Will by proving fraud or coercion.

Contested gifts/ donations

The decedent may have gifted an heir a piece of the estate before passing away. In this case, if it was a simple donation, the calculation of the estate must then integrate the value of this donation. This Will then be counted as a share already received by the beneficiary. However, the gifted party can dispute this assumption and go to the courts to prove that the gift was not an ‘inheritance.’ 

Solution: Unjust enrichment claim. The affected beneficiaries can seek legal reprieve against the gifted heir by filing an unjust enrichment claim. Simply put, the law states that where one is enriched, that should not lead to deprivation for another. Our lawyers can provide valuable advice to defend the interests of an heir in this complex case. The executor, for his part, has a duty of impartiality.

Power of attorney disputes

The decedent might have named an executor in the Will or had a power of attorney before departure. (A power of attorney usually is a family member with 100 % control over the testator’s assets, finances, and medical matters). If any of these two people overstep and make unauthorized transfers of assets, conflict arises. 

Solution: Mediation, arbitration, or litigation. The affected beneficiaries can argue that the transfer was unauthorized and led to an unfair reduction of the estate value. Forensic accountants and estate lawyers can be brought in to track concealed assets and litigate the case.

Disinherited family

A spouse or child not named as beneficiary may contest the Will and its validity. Heirs may raise issues if children from a previous marriage are included in the Will or receive more money at their disadvantage. 

Solution: Inheritance law sheds clarity on many aspects, including blended families and disinherited or divorced spouses. Work with an experienced lawyer for successful and speedy resolution. 

How to Divide an Estate among Siblings 

Bring in an accountant or professional executor: An outside party helps with clarity and objectivity. Hiring a professional to help with the process builds trust and reduces the chances of conflicts. 

Invoke inheritance law: Work with an experienced estate attorney for help on matters such as asset distribution when there is no will, when a sibling dies or contests the Will, or where the decedent died before the conclusion of divorce proceedings. 

Respect emotions: Don’t forget that everyone is grieving and that people may have sentimental attachments to some assets. Find alternative approaches, encourage communication, sow harmony. 

Take time, but be fast: As an executor, lawsuits might fly your way if you take too long to divvy up the estate. But at the same time, some siblings may feel that rushing dishonors the deceased. Acknowledge both feelings, empathize and find that middle ground to accomplish your duties as required by law. 

Beware of influence: Influence may come from heirs themselves or their families and friends. Beware not to cave, for you may be found guilty when aggrieved beneficiaries file suits. Make your work easy by working with the sibling’s alone-their spouses or friends shouldn’t be part of your meetings -they occasionally add fuel to the fire. 

Call us

Why hire an estate dispute attorney?  Because in difficult situations, it is crucial to have a qualified expert capable of quickly identifying and resolving the problems and issues that arise. Our law firm Hess-Verdon has more than 30 years of experience in inheritance issues and can therefore assist you in resolving your dispute. Contact us.

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Are you looking for a probate lawyer in the Orange County area? When it comes to the practice of Trust and estates, it can be difficult finding an attorney that’s experienced in 

Top Estate Dispute Attorney Serving California Clients handling your specific issues.

Request a consultation today.