When a family member dies without a solid estate plan in place, the sorrow of death is compounded.

While the causes of dissension and fighting are complex, here are the top 5*.

1. Local Sibling versus Away Siblings
Scenario: A “local” sibling provides care and support for a parent at the end of life, while the other sibling(s) is “away,” -physically or psychologically. Typically the local sibling “helps” or controls aspects of the elderly parent’s life while growing a feeling of entitlement. For convenience, the local sibling may have been added as a signatory to the parent’s checking account. The distant sibling(s) suspects undue influence on the part of the local sibling, and a dispute arises, often creating contentious litigation.

2. Blended Families
​Multiple marriages, children from previous relationships can present complexity and that will challenge simple estate distribution. For example, the husband may predecease the wife who eventually loses touch or becomes estranged from his children. She can then make a new estate plan based on her wishes. Depending on her relationship with her stepchildren, she might decide to leave everything to her own kids. The original intent of his will is lost and his assets are passed onto her children exclusively.

3. The “late in life” spouse.
Everyone should be happy, but the later-in-life spouse is often the root of probate challenges. There is no denying the fact that some young people prey on the loneliness of the elderly in order to access their estate when they die. Sometimes, a late-in-life spouse has no ill intentions but simply can’t fit into the existing family paradigm. Such scenarios often result in will contests. The spouse claims true love. The children claim undue influence.

4. The Opportunistic Caregiver.
With no relative to care for the elderly family member, they often rely on caregivers in their final years. As a result, many choose to sign some or all of their estate over to caregivers instead of estranged family members. While many caregivers have pure intentions, this relationships can provide the opportunity to manipulate the elderly.

5. Hidden Assets
Refusing to deliver assets that someone has inherited is against the law. Regardless, people try to hide money or property during the execution of the deceased’s will. While some probate disputes can be solved without litigation, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced litigator who is well versed in Ohio probate law.
Source: Wealth Management