When people pass away, they hope that the instructions they leave behind in a testamentary document will be accepted by their families. Clear instructions, a valid will, and talking to family members during the planning of the estate can all help surviving family and friends understand what to do with the estate afterwards.
For some families, the instructions are not always black and white. The validity of a will, the way certain property or assets are bequeathed, and even being left out of a will are all grounds for an estate dispute. When an estate is being litigated, the administration of the will is halted. Beneficiaries will likely not access their inheritances until the litigation is cleared up. And even afterwards, the result of the litigation process can have a major effect on what inheritance is left over afterwards.
In a recent article posted by MoneySense, a beneficiary was waiting for a specific inheritance after the loss of a loved one. However, the executors of the estate were fighting, and therefore the inheritance was delayed due to the litigation.
Estate litigation can have a huge effect on monetary bequests. If an estate is in litigation for months and months, the money may be earning interest as it waits for a decision. Which could mean the value you inherit could be greater. The exact terms of the interest could be set by the judge, or according to legislation, depending where you live. If the validity of the will is being questioned, and the will turns out to be invalid, you may not receive your inheritance at all.
Also, if the deceased has a lot of debt, one of the first groups of people who get paid are creditors. It’s also possible that, after paying back creditors, there may not be enough funds left in the estate to provide you with the inheritance you were expecting.
If you are party to an estate dispute, it’s best to consult with an experienced estate litigation lawyer. An estate litigation lawyer will be able to answer your questions about how inheritances may be affected by the lawsuit, and what the possible outcomes may be for your specific situation.