Disputes in Probate Court

Ideally there will be no disputes in probate court--but just in case, here's what you need to know.

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Most probate cases sail through court without any arguments from family members or creditors. The executor handles the paperwork, the required waiting periods pass, and eventually everything is transferred to the people who inherit it.

On the other extreme are the cases that show up in the newspaper headlines: wealthy families torn apart by allegations of undue influence and shady dealings involving the family fortune. But there is a whole set of other disputes, no less bitter, among ordinary families of ordinary means. Old resentments rise to the surface, and relatives who mistrust each other can't work things out and take their disputes to the judge. Disputes arise most often when there's a surprise in the way assets are left--for example, when a second wife or girlfriend inherits the lion's share, with little going to the children from a previous marriage; or when a nephew nobody knows well receives a very large gift and closer relatives are passed over.

Serving as Executor? Nolo Can Help.

Find a local lawyer for advice or handle the estate yourself with nolo's award winning do-it-yourself legal books.

The Executor's Guide

The Executor's Guide

Settle an estate or trust with this all-in-one guide for executors. The Executor's Guide will help you make progress one step at a time through the unfamiliar land of legal procedures and terminology.

The Trustee's Legal Companion

The Trustee's Legal Companion

Learn the ins and outs of being a trustee with this guide for every trust administrator. The Trustee’s Legal Companion shows you exactly how to proceed within the terms of the trust and your state's law.

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