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7 Things to Remember When the Family is Pursuing a Will Dispute

When a will dispute arises, it can fracture a family that is already grieving over the loss of a loved one. It can be hard to know where to begin when a will dispute arises. How you handle the conflict can impact how it's resolved. There are steps that you can take to minimize conflict and build your case for a successful resolution. Here are seven things to remember when the family is pursuing a will dispute: 

1. A will is enforceable if it's valid
A person who makes a will can do anything that's lawful with their assets. Even though it might seem unfair, a parent can treat children differently in a will. If the person who makes the will complies with state laws and executes a valid will, the court is going to uphold the will. Although it may seem unfair when a parent disinherits their children or treats children differently, the law doesn't require a parent to leave their assets to their children or treat all children the same. 

2. Not all wills are valid
While the courts uphold any will that's valid, a will may not be valid. There are a number of things that may make a will invalid. For example, if a person doesn't understand what they're saying in the document because of mental impairment, the will may not be valid. There can also be a will contest based on one family member having undue influence

There are also procedural requirements that a person must follow when they make a will. For example, some states recognize holographic wills, while others do not. There may be requirements for how to create a will including the number of signatures required, notary guidelines and recording requirements. The rules vary in each state. If the person who creates the will doesn't follow the rules, the errors may or may not invalidate the will. 

3. You have a right to take the matter to court
You might assume that the executor of the estate makes all the decisions. While the estate executor is in charge of administering the estate, they don't make the final decision if there's a will contest. It's not the administrator that decides whether the will is valid or how to interpret contested portions of the will. Instead, if there is a family will contest, the matter goes to court. 

If you're an administrator or executor, it's important to keep in mind that any interested party has the right to contest the will. If you're an interested party, keep in mind that you don't have to accept the word of the administrator about the provisions of the will. You have a right to your day in court and a decision from a judge when there's a family dispute about a will. 

4. You must give notice to interested parties
One of the most important parts of any legal dispute is that everyone involved has the right to notice of the proceedings. They also have the opportunity to be heard. When there's a family will contest, it can be tempting to want to leave a family member out of the loop especially if they're seen by other family members as being difficult. 

However, the law requires you to give all interested parties notice of the proceedings. The rules vary by location, but typically, you must give notice to anyone named in the will or anyone who would otherwise inherit from the estate if the will didn't exist. If you don't give notice, it can create significant problems in the future. The best plan is to comply with the law and make sure that everyone who is entitled to receive notice under the law gets notice of the proceedings and has the opportunity to participate. 

5. A will dispute depends on evidence
A will dispute is a form of litigation. The court decides the case by listening to the evidence and the parties. When you participate in a will dispute, you must gather evidence to support your position. You may use additional statements from the person who creates the will, statements of witnesses and other individuals, medical records, financial records or whatever other information is necessary to prove your case. Brisbane Wills attorneys can help you determine what it's going to take to prove your case and how you can present it to the court. 

6. Communication can go a long way
Even though there are rules for sorting out a family will dispute, there are some important steps that you can take in order to minimize family conflict and resolve the issues as easily as possible. No family member wants to feel left out. Even if you're the executor of the state, you can help smooth things over by providing regular updates to family members. If there are decisions to make along the way, you can seek input from family members even if it's ultimately up to you to make a decision. Ensuring that family members have the information they're looking for and an opportunity to have their say can help reduce conflict during a will dispute. 

7. You might benefit from mediation
One way to resolve a family will dispute is through Family Mediation. You might pursue mediation informally with a third party that you all can agree to use to help you talk about disputes in a productive way. You might also pursue formal mediation with a trained party as part of litigation proceedings. Mediation isn't appropriate in every case, but it may be helpful in some circumstances. Your attorney can help you understand when mediation is appropriate and what results you might expect if you take your case to a hearing in court. 

Resolving a family dispute
A family will dispute is a complex situation. A person who creates a will has the right to leave their assets to the individuals and organizations that they choose. However, disputes may arise about the validity of the will or the terms of asset distribution. The parties have a right to notice and a court hearing. Alternative dispute resolution including mediation can be a successful tool in resolving a will dispute.

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