Disputes | Contesting A Will | Claiming Against an Estate
Estate disputes often arise when a family member passes away. Whether it be hidden family tensions or mismanagement of the process, the undesirable ramifications can lead to irreparable damage in the family structure.
Disputes can be avoided or at least minimised by consulting a lawyer early in the estate process. The following are my top ten tips for an executor or administrator who wishes to avoid ending up in court.
Top Ten Executor Tips - Things to Avoid Doing
1. Dont tell anyone what is going on.
2. Refuse to show anyone the Will – even if they are entitled to see it.
3. Dont provide accounts and other documents when requested.
4. Use your own bank account to hold estate funds.
5. Favour yourself or another beneficiary. For instance, letting your children stay in the deceased's house (and rent free) is always a concern.
6. Make unilateral decisions without consulting other stakeholders.
7. Take an unseemly length of time to distribute the estate.
8. Try to save a few dollars with DIY probate.
9. Use your position and the opportunity to get even or get back at someone.
10. Fail to keep a record of who gets what from the estate and in addition, fail to get a receipt for each item distributed.
try to milk the estate for a massive commission even though you haven't really done anything to deserve it.
I often say to clients who are on the end of appalling behaviour from an executor that it takes two people to create the situation. Someone willing to take advantage of others and someone willing to let them do it.
Accordingly, I have compiled a list of my top ten (or more) things to watch for....
Top Ten (or more) Signs Things Are Not Right
1. It has been a year since the deceased passed away and you as a beneficiary have yet to receive anything.
2. The executor is using their personal bank account for the estate funds.
3. The executor is favouring particular beneficiaries.
4. The executor is making unilateral decisions without at least notifying or consulting you as a major beneficiary.
5. The Will seems strange or out of character.
6. You have been cut out of the Will and you should be in it.
7. The Will was changed shortly before the deceased died.
8. Someone the deceased barely knew is in the Will.
9. The deceased made a Will when they had dementia.
10. You were supposed to receive a distribution from the estate but you did not.
11. Some assets of the deceased did not appear on the executors inventory or accounts.
12. The executor has shown hostility towards you.
13. The beneficiaries cannot reach agreement on what should happen to the estate.
14. The executor wants you to sign something and you are not sure what it is.
15. The Will is not signed or dated.
16. The Will has gone missing.
17. The executor seems to be spending estate money on improper expenses. Or the executor does not have receipts for the expenses they are claiming.