Many in New Jersey know firsthand that losing a loved one is never easy. The grieving process is often interrupted by funeral and burial arrangements and the probate of that loved one’s estate. Things can get even more complicated when a probate dispute arises, causing delays in administering the estate and risking the loss of an inheritance for the heirs and beneficiaries.
When family members begin fighting over an estate, their emotions often take over the process. When winning the battle becomes more important than resolving the dispute, the value of an estate can begin to drop. The fees and costs associated with litigating the dispute can begin to diminish the value of the estate. One woman commenced a legal battle to keep others from inheriting anything from her father’s estate and vowed to spend every dime of the inheritance in court just to make that happen.
Beyond that, delays in administering the estate can also devalue it. For instance, a stock portfolio, business or other asset with a significant value at the beginning of a probate runs the risk of losing that value during a dispute. In an attempt to receive more of an estate, an heir or heirs could inadvertently cause everyone to lose. For instance, the valuation of one family business caused both sides to lose a substantial portion of what was estimated to be a $250 million business.
The emotions involved in a New Jersey probate dispute can often resemble those of a contentious divorce. Items of the estate that were not of any particular value during the life of the deceased may take on new meaning for the family members left behind. When someone is willing to go to court to contest the probate of a will, everyone’s inheritance might be put in jeopardy. Hopefully, the parties will be able to take a step back and resolve their differences amicably.
Source: wealthmanagement.com, Avoid Family Feuds, Susan Hartley and Donna LeBlanc, Feb. 7, 2014