Several factors can lead to inheritance disputes, including:

When there’s an inequality in the will

An inheritance dispute can occur if a family member wasn’t included in the will or felt another member was favored over the others. This often happens among siblings if there’s a feeling that each one did not receive equal benefits from the estate or if one was left out.

When there isn’t a will

If the deceased doesn’t have a will, their estate is divided based on intestacy rules — rules set by the state on how to distribute assets. Typically, the laws of succession apply — the deceased’s spouse will inherit or any children will inherit equally if there is no spouse. But, this can lead to problems in situations where a relative who helped with the deceased or was close to the deceased believes they should be a beneficiary but isn’t due to the intestacy rules.

When second marriages are involved

Family dynamics can get complicated. When a parent remarries, the new spouse and their children can sometimes be the beneficiaries instead of the children from the deceased’s first family.

When family estrangements occur after a will was made

Changes in family dynamics can lead to disputes. For instance, if a family member had a falling out with the deceased, but the will was never changed, they will still inherit. This can cause disputes since some family members may feel like they would have inherited if the will had been updated.

When a will is outdated

Sometimes people will have a will, but over the years, their wishes change. However, if they don’t update the will, the outdated will is still used even if they expressed different wishes verbally before death.

When a will doesn’t conform to state law

A will dispute can occur if the will isn’t valid because it doesn’t comply with the state’s requirements.

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