In a perfect world, all deceased individuals’ assets would be distributed to their loved ones easily, fairly, and according to their states’ probate laws. In reality, wills can be fabricated, assets can be mishandled, and deceased individuals’ loved ones can have disagreements about how to handle their estates. These conflicts can land families in court, where a judge and jury may have to rule on how to value, locate, and distribute an individual’s assets.
When the executor of a deceased individual’s estate cannot resolve these issues on his or her own, or if the court has to appoint an executor because one was not named, the court can become a significant player in the administration of the individual’s estate. Although litigation can be necessary, it should be approached as a last resort for families facing estate and trust-related disputes. Litigation is expensive and can quickly run through any money an individual’s loved ones would have received from his or her estate. It can also create rifts in families that can be difficult or impossible to rectify.