Probate can sometimes be a complicated, lengthy and expensive process for all parties involved. When disputes and inconsistencies arise with a decedent’s estate during the probate process, Texas probate court can become a difficult and exhausting experience thanks to several common probate problems.
Fortunately, many of these common problems encountered during probate can be solved as quickly and efficiently with the help of an experienced El Paso Texas probate attorney. While there are many potential issues that could arise during probate, here are eight common problems that our clients have experienced during probate, and are all issues with which Forbes & Forbes Law is well-versed in handling.
Alteration of the Will
Suspicions or allegations of improper changes to a will can significantly disrupt the probate process. A probate attorney can investigate such claims, gather evidence, and represent interested parties to ensure the will’s integrity and the deceased’s wishes are respected. Resolving these disputes may involve court proceedings to validate or invalidate any alterations.
Texas law provides a method by which a person can change the terms of their Will. For example, a testator can execute a new Will or a codicil to an existing Will. And, in some cases a beneficiary who does not want their part of the estate may disclaim their inheritance.
Contesting a Will
If a will is believed to not be authentic or a forgery, the person who created it lacked the proper mental capacity at the time of writing or it was created under duress, a will can be contested. This also applies to instances of fraud. Proving a will is authentic on your own can be incredibly difficult and is best accomplished with the help of an experienced probate attorney.
When a will’s validity is questioned, disputes may arise among beneficiaries, potentially leading to litigation. Probate attorneys play a crucial role in representing parties involved in will contests. They investigate the grounds for contesting the will, gather evidence, and present a strong case in court to resolve these disputes and determine the rightful distribution of assets.
Joint Inheritance Disagreements
Fights between siblings and other heirs over the status of undivided property can tear families apart. Proper estate planning can help to prevent family feuds over property by carefully outlining plans for estate distribution and helping to reduce the amount of time the estate spends in probate.
Emotional conflicts and disagreements within families can escalate during the probate process. A probate attorney can act as a neutral mediator or advocate for the interests of their clients, whether it involves disputes over asset distribution, contesting the will, or addressing personal conflicts. Their expertise helps facilitate smoother resolutions, minimizing the emotional toll on all parties.
If international property is involved in an estate passed on to a beneficiary, laws where the property is located must also be considered during probate.
Dealing with international property in probate introduces a layer of complexity due to varying laws, regulations, and jurisdictions. Each country has its own legal framework governing property ownership, inheritance, and taxation. Navigating this intricate legal terrain can be daunting for the executor and beneficiaries and is best left to an experienced probate attorney to help solve.
Estate Assets Cannot be Found
When estate assets cannot be located, it can impede the probate process and delay the distribution of assets to beneficiaries. A probate attorney possesses legal tools and resources to initiate asset tracing efforts. They may hire investigators, work with financial institutions, and employ legal mechanisms to identify and recover missing assets.
In some cases, assets may have been intentionally concealed or omitted from the will. A probate attorney’s experience in forensic accounting and asset investigation can uncover hidden bank accounts, real estate holdings, investments, and personal property.
The Person Named as Executor is Unable or Unwilling to Fulfill Their Role
When a testator writes a will, they usually name another individual to preside over their estate after death and oversee probate. When the executor cannot (or will not) perform this duty, however, the court will check to see if the Will names a successor executor and the successor will likely be named to fulfill the duties of executor.
However, if the Will does not name a successor and the named executor cannot or will not serve, the court will appoint a personal representative or estate administrator to fulfill the duties that the chosen executor would have otherwise.
Alternatively, a probate attorney can help provide legal counsel towards an otherwise wary or unsure executor to ensure that the will is honored in its entirety.
The Executor is Not Performing Their Job Properly
Any chosen executor has the opportunity to turn down the role if they feel that they cannot or should not have a say in the division of estate amongst heirs and beneficiaries. In some cases, however, an executor will choose to take on this role without realizing the gravity of their responsibilities. As a result, they may lapse in their duties and court intervention may be required to remove the appointed executor and appoint a new executor or administrator.
Contact Our Experienced El Paso TX Probate Attorney
Under some circumstances, the probate period can be a stressful and chaotic experience for both the executor of the estate and the family of the deceased to handle. Even the most commonplace of problems can seem like a major impediment to resolving probate and moving on.
Fortunately, we are here to help. Forbes and Forbes is dedicated to helping you through your unique probate circumstances with as little complication as possible. To ensure the best possible outcome while navigating the probate process, contact our probate attorney well versed in probate law to help you through this major life event.
*This article has been updated with new information