Some of the most acrimonious and distasteful arguments involve family disputes, especially if finances are involved. When a family member passes away and leaves an inheritance, quarrels among the heirs that may lead to litigation are not uncommon. But the heirs can negotiate their differences and if necessary, involve an attorney who can explain their rights and suggest solutions. If you live in the Pasadena area and have an inheritance dispute, consider a consultation with an inheritance attorney from Pasadena.
Negotiating Ineritance Before Death
If you are drafting a Will or other estate plan instruments, you probably have a good idea of your assets and to whom you wish to leave them. However, you might consider that siblings or organizations may be expecting an inheritance or funds from your estate and that by omitting them or leaving them less than what they anticipated, you might create resentment, jealousy and animosity.
Before drafting your Will, you might wish to communicate to your heirs and any other beneficiaries what you plan to leave them. For example, you might feel that leaving your home to all 3 children is a good idea, but what if one wants to live there and the other two wish to sell it and divide the sale proceeds? If you have an unusual collection, antiques, jewelry or family heirlooms, do you know who would enjoy the item or would rather just sell whatever is left them or resent inheriting it? Communicate with your family over the disposition of your assets since this can prevent clashes after you pass away.
Inheriting a Home
One area that can lead to arguments is when a house is left to more than one heir, usually siblings. All are entitled to the enjoyment and use of the home unless the Will states that a specific family member could live there. Otherwise, the parties can negotiate, which may include a sale of the house and division of the proceeds or having one heir buy out the others. If the heirs disagree about disposition of the home, then a party could ask the court to order partition, which is a forced sale where the house is sold at auction or by use of a private realtor. Real estate auctions rarely result in the owners realizing full value so you should consider selling it, after probate, if this is your plan by using a private realtor and not getting the court involved.
Another solution is that if other valuable assets were left, an heir could relinquish rights to it in return for the house. Your inheritance attorney in Pasadena can advise you on the value of these assets and have them appraised if necessary.
One scenario is if your sibling wants the house but you want to sell and the sibling does not qualify for a loan is to have your attorney draft a promissory note or file a lien on the property. You could take monthly payments from the sibling who wants the home who will be making payments that are lower than what a mortgage would have required. Though you would immediately receive the proceeds if the house had been sold, you at least maintain family harmony in this case. If there is a default, you should consult with an attorney about your options.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
If you or your siblings or other heirs are firmly entrenched in their positions regarding a shared valuable asset like real property, then mediation or arbitration may be a solution. In a mediation, the parties present their arguments and positions to a neutral party who attempts to work out a compromise or at least offer suggestions. It is wise to have an inheritance attorney from Pasadena or trusts and estates lawyer as mediator since you will want a professional who understands the law of trusts and estates and can advise you accordingly.
If mediation fails, or is not considered, then arbitration is less costly than going to court. An arbitration is similar to a trial though you do not need a judge to act as arbitrator. Usually, a trusts and estate attorney is offered the task. All sides present their arguments, with opportunities to cross-examine witnesses. Any decision, though, is final.