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What if you face family conflict in probate?

On Behalf of | Apr 23, 2024 | Estate Administration, Probate |

As we have discussed in previous blog posts, the stress and pain of losing a loved one can place a significant amount of strain on a family. As emotions run high, it increases the risk of disagreements between family members – particularly when it comes to the deceased loved one’s wishes.

Family members might have different interpretations of the will or your loved one’s desires for their memorial service. Families must approach such disagreement very carefully. Here are some helpful tips to consider to navigate these conflicts.

1. Have an open, nonjudgmental and empathetic conversation

Communication is always essential when facing a conflict. Therefore, it will help to arrange a time for the family to meet together for an intentional conversation.

How can you make it intentional? The keys to this gathering will be to:

  • Use “I” statements when possible, to reduce the risk of escalating conflicts
  • Engage in active listening, with each family member
  • Focus on empathy while listening
  • Understand that everyone had a different relationship with your loved one

Moving forward without judgment and prioritizing empathy can help you reach the bottom of this conflict while maintaining a level of harmony.

2. Consider a professional opinion

Whether or not a family meeting works to understand and navigate the conflicting interpretations of a loved one’s will, it can still be helpful to seek guidance. Speaking to a probate attorney or the attorney who helped draft your loved one’s will can help clarify any confusion family members may have.

A professional may also help your family to work through the remaining points of conflict in relation to the will.

3. Keep communication open – not just for that one conversation

Effectively communicating can help handle a conflict, but it can also help prevent further conflict and misunderstandings. The loved one’s personal representative or executor, as well as the other family members, should agree to be transparent and open throughout the entire process of the estate administration.

Ensuring that everyone is and feels heard can make a big difference to keep this process moving smoothly for the whole family.