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Prevent probate litigation with planning and communication

For many in New York, the purpose of making an estate plan is to avoid conflict or confusion after their death. With a will or trust in place, they assume their assets will be divided according to their wishes. However, understanding the common reasons why families resort to probate litigation may help one avoid those pitfalls that create chaos out of the best laid plans.

Choosing one child over the other siblings to execute the estate can create feelings of mistrust or resentment. People can avoid this possibility by naming co-executors or by simply informing the siblings of the reasons one person was chosen over the other. Sometimes frank discussions ahead of time can resolve conflicts before they occur.

The most common reason for disputing an estate plan is a perceived unfairness in the distribution of assets. Parents may distribute their wealth unevenly for personal reasons, such as the disposition of one child or the greater need of another. If one child is disinherited altogether, this may also breed resentment and discord that could lead to legal action. Again, communicating with one's heirs about the contents of a will may be the surest protection against a family dispute.

Of course, without a will, the chances of families resorting to probate litigation may increase. Creating an estate plan can go far in avoiding such conflicts. However, if someone in New York feels the estate plan of a loved one is contestable, he or she has the right to contact an attorney for advice on options for resolving the situation fairly.

Source: investopedia.com, "Avoiding 4 Common Causes of Family Estate Fights", Barbara E. Weltman, Accessed on June 30, 2017

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