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Unclear estate planning and family disputes

Posted on October 13, 2017

In addition to the many stages of the grieving process that come with the loss of a close family member, some individuals experience tension between other family members regarding the deceased family’s estate planning. One common way that family disputes arise in Missouri is when a family member fails to clearly outline the details of their will. Surviving family members are often left with a legal mess to untangle, which, needless to say, can spark tension over an already-emotional situation.

The National Law Review recently focused on family disputes that arise from unclear estate planning, noting that these cases are all too common. In many situations, the deceased individual’s successors must decipher whether provisions are directed at a partner or simply an assignee; assignees do not have the same rights as a partner. If there is no surviving partner, some Missouri residents choose to make arrangements for family partnership agreements, which enable the transfer of a partnership interest to another family member. While this approach is often successful, many family members nevertheless must analyze technical terms that officially refer those family members as partners. Family disputes can occur when successors disagree on passing partnership interests to a beneficiary, but the action is not clearly outlined in the provisions.

Disputes can naturally arise when a will is vague or misleading, as Findlaw explains the legal steps involved in such cases. In the state of Missouri, will laws hold that two witnesses must be present at the time of signing, and that the individual must be of sound mind. Missouri residents may handwrite specifics of a will, including the allotting of personal items and property. The law also allows those on their “death bed” to make oral wills to surviving loved ones.