Sometimes there is no preventing an estate litigation. When a family member steals items from the estate, or when the Will is poorly drafting making it confusing, litigation is sure to follow.
However, most good estate attorneys will tell you, one of the biggest reasons that unnecessary litigation results is due to family members not communicating with each other. Lack of communication by the person in charge of the estate leads the other family members to believe that the executor (or administrator) is hiding something. More often than not, the person in charge is just too busy or overwhelmed. Things get said which are better left unsaid, and then the worst of all situations arises – it no longer is about getting what you are entitled to under the Will, but about how Mom or Dad always loved the other one more.
Once the administration of an estate is no longer about getting through the difficult administration process, but about opening old family wounds, people seem more than happy to hire aggressive litigators to settle the score. In the long run, this ALWAYS costs the estate far more. It costs the estate more money in attorneys’ fees and it costs the family any semblance of family unity. It is rare that siblings, or cousins, will ever get along again after there has been an estate litigation.
Many times, you do not need to hire an attorney to handle the probate and administration of a loved one’s estate. However, if you find yourself overwhelmed, you must not just sit and wait. It will cost you far more than money. A qualified estate administration attorney can guide you through the process. Moreover, the person named as executor is not individually responsible for paying for the fees – it comes from the estate off the top. After all, it is in everyone’s interest to make sure Mom and Dad’s wishes are carried out.