How to Resolve Inheritance and Wills Disputes

The stress of losing a loved one is never an easy matter, and it can become much more heated when inheritance or wills disputes come into play. Whether it's a matter of a piece of jewelry that has sentimental value or the disposal of a property, family members don't always agree on how to deal with inheritance issues. If you're looking for inheritance advice, consider these options:

Respect the Will
Not only is a will a legally binding document, but it also represents the wishes and desires of your deceased family member. To resolve any inheritance dispute, first consult the will. The will should address important matters such as dealing with property, inheritance money and personal belongings. If the will isn't clear on a specific point, it's up to the executor to make a determination on inheritance issues. If there is no will, or an executor has not been named in the will, an administrator may be appointed by probate court.

Prepare to Compromise
If you and a family member don't agree on resolving inheritance disputes, look for an acceptable compromise. If you're dying to have a piece of furniture that has sentimental value, and the other family member is only concerned about inheritance money and wants to sell it, consider offering that family member a larger share of the inheritance money in return for you keeping the furniture. This is a common method of resolving inheritance disputes.

Consider Mediation or Arbitration
Mediation and arbitration are two options for resolving inheritance issues short of litigation. In a mediation, the parties sit down and discuss their inheritance disagreements, and the mediator attempts to help them reach a compromise. The mediator may offer inheritance advice or multiple suggestions and compromises to help the parties reach an agreement.

In arbitration, each side presents its argument to the impartial arbitrator, who evaluates the inheritance issues and makes a determination. Arbitration is more of a last resort, as each party must agree to abide by the decision but ultimately has no control over it. Arbitration may be a good option for cases where there's a heated dispute over inheritance money and neither side wants to compromise.

Probate Court: The Last Resort for Inheritance Disputes
If you cannot reach a compromise, mediation or arbitration are unsuccessful, or if you disagree with the way the executor has disposed of property, you may find yourself in probate court. Probate court is where you litigate inheritance issues, including disposal of property or inheritance money. Litigating in probate court can be an expensive prospect, as you're likely to need probate attorneys to help you navigate the maze of forms and processes. In many cases, you'll be better off finding some other way to resolve inheritance disputes.

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