Early Estate Challenges: how to be ahead of the game?

estate challenges

When a loved one passes away, estate challenges can happen very quickly. What can you do about it?

It is not uncommon for one or more family members to attempt to take over the estate, and gain a larger share of the deceased’s property.  

Many times, the best response is to become proactive instead of reactive. It is common in these situations for the family to want to wait and see if things improve. Unfortunately, these types of situations do not always get better on their own.

To make matters worse, certain key documents (such as the will) and valuable property can go missing. Unfortunately, once those types of things are gone, it can be very difficult to recover them.

As a result, the best way to handle these types of estate challenges is to take action quickly to preserve the estate. A good first step is usually to gain control over the estate, and there are ways to do that on an emergency basis (discussed below). That can be especially true if the named executor in the will is the one causing the problems. In that case, you can petition the court to have someone better suited to administer the estate appointed.

Having someone appointed to the estate quickly that will be fair to all heirs or beneficiaries allows for a greater chance that property will not go missing and that it will end up going to the appropriate person.

In an emergency situation (i.e. you believe someone is taking estate property right now!) you can file a petition for temporary administration. This petition has fewer notice requirements, and gets approved by the Judge much faster than filing for the full administration of an estate.

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Having temporary letters of administration from the court will allow the appointed person to “marshal the assets” – essentially collect all the deceased’s property and preserve its value for the benefit of the estate. A temporary administrator cannot transfer title of any estate property. They are just in a position to preserve the estate assets until a time when a permanent administrator or executor can be appointed. This can be a key step when trying to keep unpredictable family members from taking estate property.

This process can become quite complicated and minor details can have large effects on outcomes. Please reach out to our office for help with your particular situation.

For common ways that estate disputes start, take a look at this article.


Disclaimer: The information above is provided for general information only and should not be considered legal advice. Our probate lawyers provide legal advice to our clients after talking about the specific circumstances of the client’s situation. Our law firm cannot give you legal advice unless we understand your situation by talking with you. Please contact our law office to receive specific information about your situation.