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Why disputes between beneficiaries and administrators occur

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2024 | Probate Litigation

Estate administrators hold the responsibility of managing and distributing a decedent’s assets. They have to balance their legal obligations and the decedent’s wishes, which is a crucial part of their role. Disputes can sometimes arise in the process of fulfilling these duties, especially when considering the beneficiaries’ expectations.

Here are four reasons why that happens.

Mismatch between beneficiary expectations and administrator decisions

One common cause of disputes is when beneficiaries and the administrator don’t see eye-to-eye. Beneficiaries often have their own ideas about the decedent’s assets. However, administrators must make decisions per the law and the decedent’s wishes. When the decisions made by the administrator don’t match the expectations of the beneficiaries, it can lead to conflicts.

These issues can escalate to probate litigation. It’s a legal process that resolves disputes about distributing a deceased person’s estate.

Miscommunication or lack of transparency

Miscommunication or a lack of transparency by the administrator can also cause disputes. Administrators have a duty to keep beneficiaries informed about the affairs of the estate. If they fail to do so, it can result in misunderstandings and mistrust.

Inadequate or ambiguous estate planning

Inadequate or ambiguous estate planning can also be a source of disputes. If the terms of a will or trust are unclear or seem unfair, beneficiaries might contest it. Contesting a will involves challenging its validity in court, often due to undue influence or improper execution. It’s the administrator’s job to manage this process.

However, if they don’t manage it well, it can lead to additional conflicts. In most cases, it can even prolong litigation.

Conflict over estate values

Disagreements can occur between estate administrators and beneficiaries about the value of assets. This is especially true with unique items like artwork, jewelry or real estate. Administrators assign a value to these assets, but beneficiaries might not agree with them. They might feel the given value does not accurately reflect their rightful share. If a resolution can’t be reached, it may be necessary to involve a court to determine the actual value of the assets.

Families dealing with these conflicts may find probate litigation overwhelming. In such cases, seeking a legal professional can be beneficial in this process.