What to Do When Family Disputes Make Estate Properties a Nightmare
When someone passes away, family disagreements can lead to serious legal trouble. As real estate attorneys, we’ve seen estate cases that victimize investors and heirs, sometimes resulting in lawsuits for fraud and property possession.
Relatives of a deceased family member should first understand the difference between a will and an estate. A will simply leaves instructions to heirs for how to distribute assets. An estate includes these assets plus any home or property owned, which can make things a little more complicated. Several heirs means several opinions, causing tension at an emotional time. Ideally, heirs come to an agreement on what to do with a property, but sometimes a legal case is necessary.
Clients who turn to us are usually facing common situations. Is one sibling already living with a parent who passes away? They may feel entitled to the property or think they have more rights than other heirs. If they pay for maintenance and repairs, they might accuse family members of abandoning the home. To avoid conflict, heirs might agree to let them stay for years without settling the estate.
When property value increases after several years and heirs want to sell or find renters, the unresolved dispute becomes more complex. In these circumstances, the family member can be removed, but a real estate attorney must file a lawsuit.
Another typical case arises when one heir moves quickly to handle estate affairs, transfer a deed, or retitle the property into their name without consent of the rest of the family. In unfortunate instances, an heir may dishonestly induce an ill family member to sign over a property right before they pass away. This isn’t just a family dispute anymore. It causes lasting animosity and gives other heirs the right to sue for fraud. Our firm has proven fraudulent transfers countless times and helped retitle properties back to the rightful heirs.
If you’re an investor, we know that these common disputes put you in a tricky legal position. Estate properties are often desirable, offering passive income, tax advantages, and diversification to wise investors. They make up a huge part of the real estate investment market, but problems start to mount when heirs take a long time to decide what to do with the property.
Even when a personal representative agrees to sell, investors must check for other heirs who have a legal interest. When a rightful heir objects, they can sue to reverse the sale, leaving investors with wasted time and resources. Investors who are deceived by undisclosed estate disputes may be protected through legal action or the right title insurance policy.
A real estate attorney can prevent investors from making a mistake or help resolve a dispute between the heirs once legal complications arise. Our firm acts quickly to assist victimized investors with a smooth property transfer.
As a probate law firm for estate executors, we help settle estates efficiently and reduce stress. If you know someone faced with a probate process or roadblocks to an estate property sale, please have them contact us for a free evaluation at:
Phone: (215) 918-4242
If you are not quite ready for a consultation, download our probate handbook HERE. We’ll send you helpful probate guides and resources so you know how to handle the estate.