Here’s how to invite a probate dispute among your family

On Behalf of | Jul 26, 2019 | Firm News

There are some telltale signs that your estate may cause issues in the courts or among family members after your death. Knowing what these issues are and how to pinpoint them can truly help you create a solid estate plan that is going to hold water and that is going to be carried out smoothly.

Siblings and family ties

In many cases, unless an estate is divided equally and the terms are discussed prior to the passing of the parent, there are likely to be sibling fights. Though it might seem smart to appoint one of your children as the trustee for the estate, since they know you best and all, it is always better to choose a third party that has nothing to gain and that can then mitigate and referee fights in order to carry out the will to your specification.

Imbalances in beneficiaries

Yet another issue that will frequently lead to disputes even among the closest of families, is if one beneficiary has more money than the other. If you have multiple beneficiaries and one is independently wealthy, equal distribution of assets will hardly seem fair to the others who may depend on the money more…and more quickly. It is important to leave specific instructions as to what needs to be done with each piece of property, including an explanation that may help calm down a potential storm.


Though it might be tempting to leave more than one of your children or heirs in charge of your estate, it is always best to choose one trustee who will be better able to make the executive decision about how to best carry out your last wishes. You’ve heard it said that a committee built the camel. Well when it comes to executors or trusteeship, multiple people in charge are likely to make a camel look well-designed by comparison.

Mental or physical health of the beneficiaries

The mental and physical health of the beneficiary may also have an adverse effect on the carrying out of the will. If your child is chemically dependent, there may be some mental, physical and even legal constraints against them handling the estate properly. It may be best to include a provision in your will or estate that the beneficiary has to be clean and free of drugs either at the time of settlement or for a period of time for them to get the estate.

Coercion of the deceased

If you are of an advanced age and are being taken care of by one person, that person may attempt to get a bigger part of your estate, effectively edging out other beneficiaries. It is important that if you are the child of an aging parent, you do not give a caretaker the chance to influence your parent into changing their will.

Estrangement and disinheritance

In cases where a child or family member has been left out of a will, either on purpose or accidentally, it is important to remember that these individuals can only gain if they challenge the will. This is especially important to remember in cases where a child is left out of a will because they are being spurned by the parent or in cases where the family dynamic has changed since the will or estate was written as in cases of marriage and divorce or births and deaths.

Marriages later in life

It seems like nothing will create disagreements within a family more than a remarriage late in life. In these cases, the children of the previous marriage are very likely to challenge it. It is important to update your will or trust, including express instructions about what is to be done with each part.

Allowing one beneficiary to end up with more money, before or after your death

An additional issue that may cause a contested estate is leaving a greater sum of money or property to one specific individual who should be of equal standing among heirs. This might mean that money was given before the person passed and therefore they should not get as much after the passing. Keeping a record helps calm frustration among siblings.