There are multiple reasons why a probate dispute can happen. Regardless of the reason, the one thing that remains the same in almost any probate litigation is that a dispute is going to be a long, drawn-out process. Probate on its own, without any issues that can arise, will be a slow process. The shortest amount of time for an estate to be administered is six months. The longest can be more months, to even years, when and if litigation takes place.
Most probate disputes happen as a result of three common situations. First, and likely the most common reason, is a question of the validity of a will. Family members or other heirs may claim the will was forged, or signed when the person did not have the mental capacity to understand. Even if one or both of these are proved false, the contest will drag out administration of the estate.
A second reason for dispute could be the claim that a will was signed because the person was pressured, threatened, or deceived into doing so. On occasion, an outsider may develop a relationship with a person while having the ulterior motive of hijacking an inheritance. This can happen with romantic relationships, care takers, or friends who “just want to help.” If your gut tells you something is not quite right, and all of a sudden a will is amended, coercion may have taken place.
The third common reason for probate dispute is simply a differing interpretation of the will. An heir may disagree with an inheritance he or she did, or did not, receive. When an heir and an executor disagree on any part of a will, a probate judge may have to step-in and make an interpretation judgment. No matter what the reason may be, it is recommended to consult with an experienced probate attorney before filing a contest of will to ensure that it is valid, and unnecessary delay will not take place.