Let’s face it. The probate process, without any bumps in the road, is long and tedious. Most people who agree to act as the appointed personal representative of an estate really have no idea exactly what they are agreeing too. It is not uncommon to hear someone who is just completing an estate probate say that they will never agree to do it again, especially when there were disputes that arose.
A basic probate matter will take a minimum of six months to proceed from start to finish. However, when disputes and litigations arise within that probate, it could be extended out months or even years. There are multiple reasons these disputes could arise, but there are three that seem to be the most common.
First, there may be a question of validity of the will. If an heir suspects that a will was forged, there will almost certainly be litigation involved that will require testimony from witnesses and/or the person who notarized the signature. Second, in some situations, it is believed that a person executed an amendment to a will under pressure or due to a threat. This can be from another family member, or an outsider who is attempting to hijack an estate. Again, these claims can lead to long, drawn out probate litigations. The third most common reason for dispute is a difference of opinion in interpreting what a will actually says. One heir may interpret an instruction differently than another, which leads to a probate judge having to decide a final interpretation.
Any probate or estate matter should be discussed with an experienced probate attorney in an effort to prevent any of these types, or other disputes from happening. Don’t make the probate process longer or harder than it has to be by attempting to navigate it on your own.