Guardianship and Inheritance Disputes


A parent or relative may reach a point when he or she requires assistance with various aspects of daily living, from daily personal care and transportation to help with medical decisions or financial management. At such times, children or other family members commonly step in to help any way they can.

However, disagreements may arise among family members as to what’s best for an older loved one, even as the person’s ability to make their own decisions  can be compromised by cognitive impairment, the beginnings of dementia, early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, or other infirmities. Concerns may arise that a family member or non-relative with access to the person and their sensitive information may be influencing decisions that others within the caring circle feel are not consistent with what their loved one truly wishes, or what is best for them.

These are delicate situations, rife with difficult emotions. Hurt, or suspicion of self-dealing, may damage trust or make communication seem hopeless or futile. When a loved one’s ability to make decisions regarding their care or property is severely compromised, adult guardianship may be warranted. At other times, the picture is not so clear.

You and your family don’t have to navigate these challenges alone. And you don’t have to spend all your loved one’s assets or your own money on costly courtroom procedures with frustrating timelines and uncertain outcomes. Let our team of professionals help you find more productive and cost-effective ways of dealing with familial strife-- before it gets out of control.

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Losing a loved one is extraordinarily painful, and when questions arise about the way a deceased relative’s property is handled, or about the contents and meaning of their will, the resulting uncertainty can arouse difficult feelings and prevent closure.

While a loved one’s property is no real consolation for your loss, you may find yourself in a tense situation regarding the fair division of their assets.  You or another relative may feel that the will is not reflective of what your loved one truly wanted, and may even question its validity. Or, you may disagree with the deceased person’s choice of executor, or have concerns about how that person is administering the estate and handling your loved one’s property.  Sometimes a trust or business interest may be involved, raising additional legal and practical questions.

There are, of course, court procedures for contesting the validity of a will, challenging the actions of an executor, or otherwise asserting rights of inheritance. However, messy fights over estate matters tend to be costly and bitter, leaving relationships in a shambles and sometimes depleting the very assets your loved one left behind.

While we encourage our estate clients to seek fair results, and we advocate zealously for their interests, we are committed to pursuing more cost-effective and less stressful forms of conflict resolution, based upon collaborative law principles, whenever possible.

Don't Go it Alone

Many people hesitate to hire an attorney when an elder care or estate issue arises because they wish to keep these delicate matters “within the family.” Don't make this mistake!

Conflicts among or between caregivers, beneficiaries and fiduciaries can be much more destructive without experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel in place to help family members restore dialogue with one another and make informed decisions about the realistic options before them.

Our experience negotiating creatively, compassionately, and respectfully for our clients can help families creatively problem-solve to reach a settlement that all parties can accept.  And in the best of circumstances, they can even begin healing and restoring once-fractured family relationships.

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