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What is the Best Way to Handle a will Dispute?

Felicia Dye
Felicia Dye

Settling a will dispute can be very difficult if all parties are inflexible. When the disagreeing parties are at least cordial, a good starting point for a resolution is for them to read through the will together. It may be necessary to allow the executor to make a final decision if the disagreeing parties cannot reach an agreement. If that does not work, contacting a lawyer or employing the services of an arbitrator may be necessary.

Before attempting to settle a will dispute, there are some things that a person should consider. First and foremost is that the person who died and the surviving heirs are often family members or close associates. As such, those relations should be valued and revered at a greater level than the possessions to be gained. Second, a solution is easiest to reach if all parties are truly open to solving the disagreement. In many cases, allowing the dispute to drag on is not beneficial to any parties involved.

Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

The first thing that individuals should do is to re-read the document. It is often best if the disputing parties review the will together. This allows an opportunity to indicate the specific points that are causing the disagreement. If each party is given the opportunity to state what she believes the terms to mean, it may be possible to reach an agreement.

Settling the will dispute will not always be that simple, unfortunately. Sometimes disputing parties firmly believe that their points are correct. When this happens, it may be best for everyone who has a legal interest in the will to agree to allow the executor to settle disputes. If this type of agreement can be reached, the decision of the executor should be final and binding.

When the will dispute cannot be settled by the executor, there are several options. The quickest, and perhaps one of the cheapest, is to arrange for everyone to meet with an experienced attorney who is mutually agreed upon. The attorney will likely read through the will initially to familiarize himself with the document. After that, he will likely read the will again in the presence of the heirs, explaining what each part means.

Following the lawyer’s explanation, reasonable individuals should accept the legal advice provided and settle the will dispute accordingly. What the lawyer says may not be legally binding, however. If anyone still wholly disagrees and wants to pursue the matter, this may be done in court or by employing the services of a resolution specialist, such as an arbitrator.

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