Estate planning can alleviate a lot of confusion after a loved one passes away. However, even with a properly crafted will, beneficiaries may disagree with the representatives of an estate when it comes to the proper and timely distribution of assets. Unfortunately, conflicts between the family and the personal representative can escalate quickly, eventually leading to a will contest or estate litigation.
Common Disputes Over Estate or Trust Assets
It is the personal representative’s duty to distribute and dispose of assets according to the decedent’s wishes during the administration of an estate. The personal representative is also expected to act in the best interests of the estate, especially when it comes to decisions that could potentially cause financial losses to the estate or the beneficiaries.
Distribution disagreements may arise for any number of reasons. These include:
- Whether to keep or sell a valuable asset. If several beneficiaries inherit a portion of an asset (such as real estate), each one may have differing opinions on how to share or dispose of the asset.
- Determining the value of an asset. It may be difficult to place a market value on some assets, such as handmade items, antiques, or artwork.
- Disputes over heirlooms. If one beneficiary wants to keep a family heirloom but another wishes to sell it, it can be difficult to work out an arrangement that satisfies all parties—especially if the asset holds sentimental value.
- Shareholder and business ownership rights. If the decedent appoints one of his children as a successor in the family business, other family members may contest the decision.
- Intellectual property rights. Estates that include intellectual properties (such as patents, royalties, or copyrights) will often require legal advice in order to make a final estate distribution decision.
If you are involved in an estate distribution disagreement, you should consult with a New York estate litigation attorney as soon as possible to help resolve the matter. Contact our law firm today to tell us more about your dispute in your initial consultation.