How Deficits in Estate Planning Can Lead to Probate Battles

The news often reports about persons in the public eye with fortune and fame that die suddenly without a will or with a terribly outdated estate plan. Because the celebrity with high net worth failed to address who will inherit their assets with a will or trust that stands up to the law, potential beneficiaries often wage an all-out war to get a share of the estate.

A public spectacle

Because the probate process takes place in a court of law, the proceedings and their resolutions are public information. This can lead to unflattering news reports as inheritance battles wage on. As the spectacle unfolds, it becomes more costly in terms of reputation and the funds required to keep the fight going.

The same types of problems also plague “regular” families with varying levels of net worth. When a person dies and it is not clear if there is a legally sanctioned plan for asset distribution, troubles can ensue in the probate process.

Common issues

Here are some ways that inadequate or non-existent estate planning can lead to problems in the probate process:

  • A will that is decades old is the only legal estate planning document existing and it does not name children born after the will was signed.
  • With no will or trust, the deceased leaves behind an estate that is worth millions, which prompts alleged children to claim they are his offspring, holding up the already complex probate process.
  • A singer dies with no estate plan, which means ownership of her intellectual property and royalties will get decided by a court.

If you are a potential beneficiary of someone that has not made a full and robust plan for the handling of their estate, it is likely that you will need experienced and strategic legal representation to address and resolve matters in the best possible manner given the circumstances.


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