"I saw an alarming increase in the number of probate and trust litigation cases. It was just devastating families, and the attorneys' fee were just consuming whatever estate was there," said Sally Mulhern, whose office is at 155 Fleet St. "I didn't want to see this trend continue. I wanted to do something to get this under control."
Is the probate process something that could be addressed before death occurs? Some legislators think this may prevent a lot of estate headaches in regards to will disputes.
When a wealthy person does something unexpected with his or her will, it is not unusual for the will to be challenged during the probate process. For example, if someone makes an unequal division of assets between his children, the children who received less might decide to challenge the division even if the assets were divided unequally for a good reason. This leads to long and costly court battles between family members as they argue about what the deceased really intended to do. The dispute could possibly be resolved faster if the deceased could testify about those intentions.
As reported by Seacoast Online in "New Granite State estate law designed to end shenanigans," a new law in New Hampshire should help alleviate the problem of the inability of the will-maker to testify. No, New Hampshire has not found a way for the deceased to testify. Instead, they have made it possible for someone to probate a will before they pass away. If someone thinks that his or her will could lead to disputes, a probate judge can look at it before the person passes away and give the estate plan a judicial seal of approval.
The law just went into effect and very few other states have similar laws. It will be interesting to track how the process works in New Hampshire and whether or not it actually does lead to fewer and less costly disputes over estates. If it does, other states might enact similar laws.