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Family Disputes over Property

When family disputes over property arise it's smart to attempt resolution as quickly as possible. Irreparable damage and division within the family can occur if disagreements escalate. If necessary, call in a professional mediator, religious clergy, or lawyer to defuse the situation and begin negotiation.

Unfortunately, family disputes over property are common occurrence. The most prevalent source of disagreements stem from divorce and inheritance gifts bequeathed from deceased relatives. Death and divorce are highly charged emotional events that can cause people to behave out of character.

As a real estate investor and probate liquidator I'm often stuck in the middle of family arguments. I could write a book of tales about material things people have engaged in all-out war to get their hands on. I've witnessed people argue over everything from who should inherit the family pet to multi-million dollar real estate.

Family disputes over inheritance can be minimized by engaging in estate planning. Emotions run high when a family member dies. If a relative didn't inherit something they felt entitled to it can send them into frenzy. The next thing you know, they have hired a probate attorney to lay claim to inheritance property.

Contesting a last will and testament is a surefire way to create family turmoil. Nothing can tear a family apart faster than filing a lawsuit to gain possession of a loved one's belongings. However, if heirs are rightfully entitled to something that was not provided in the Will and it is of substantial value, there is good reason to fight for the property.

Estate planning is used to put final wishes in writing and bequeath specific and general gifts to heirs and beneficiaries. Executing a legal Will is necessary for probate estates and trusts. Without a Will, family property is distributed equally amongst rightful heirs.

Estate planners can help you decide the best strategies for minimizing inheritance tax, keeping assets out of probate, transferring family wealth to trusts, disinheriting relatives, and ways to keep family arguments from occurring.

While there are no ironclad remedies for eliminating family disputes, one strategy is to hold a meeting for open discussion. Relatives usually feel awkward about laying claim to family owned property, but meetings provide a forum where disputes can be aired and negotiations can occur.

Once relatives reach agreement, make a list of property that will be gifted through the Will or trust and have everyone sign the contract. Make copies for everyone involved and attach the original document to the last will and testament.

When family disputes over property arise from divorce it's usually best to hire a good divorce lawyer. This is particularly true when real estate or financial portfolios are jointly owned. Over the years I've come to realize there is no such thing as a friendly divorce. Regardless of how amicable divorcing parties are, by the time they are in the midst of divorce proceedings tempers tend to flare. What starts out as an uncontested divorce often turns into a contested divorce because one spouse feels gaining possession of property is more important than parting ways on good terms.

In the midst of turmoil it can be difficult to make good judgments. Certainly there are times when it is appropriate to fight for what is rightfully yours, but if the price tag attached involves severing ties with family members it's smart to determine if the fight is really worth it.

Don't let family disputes over property tear your family apart. Instead, find ways to negotiate a solution. We offer a comprehensive estate planning article library the provide strategies to minimize family arguments and protect assets from being suspended in probate while lawyers sort out the details. We hope the information helps you find ways to keep your family intact during difficult situations.

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Published on June 22, 2011 at 03:29 AM | Comments: 1

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Can you contest any will and last testament if you are an heir that has not been proved to be a heir..More specifically Son who has never met his Father but knows he lives and in fact we are blood?

Donald Burton | July 26, 2012 10:32 AM


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