Everyone reacts in their own way when a family member passes away. Emotions can run high, and people can react more strongly than they normally would. Some family members may feel cheated by what a will or trust grants them leading them to contest the will or trust of the deceased. Will and trust contests can last for years. In the meantime, no one receives the assets they legally should have.
Stopping the in-fighting may be impossible, but you can take steps to stop family members from contesting your will or your trust. Someone can contest a will or trust if they believe (and can legally prove):
- You were not mentally capable of executing a will
- Someone exerted undue influence over you
- Anyone committed fraud
- The will was not executed correctly
Keep reading to learn the reasons your will could be contested and how you can stop someone from contesting your will.
1. Properly Execute Your Will or Trust
There are documents and guides online that can help you set up your will. However, the best and most assured way of drafting and executing a will properly is by getting legal aid from an estate planning attorney. Make sure to have two independent witnesses present for the signing.
2. Provide an Explanation
Confused family members are more likely to contest a will or trust. Talk to them during your drafting process to explain your decisions. In-person conversations are stronger, but you could also include your explanation in your legal documents.
3. Include a No-Contest Clause
Including a no-contest clause will help prevent a challenge. A no-contest clause typically means that if an individual challenges the will or trust, they get nothing. This option is helpful for higher-value assets.
4. Prove Yourself to be Competent
One major challenge for a will or trust is the competency of the benefactor (signer of the will) at the time of signing. Avoid this challenge by having your attorney test your competency. Competency tests may include answering questions or possibly involve a doctor.
5. Clear Any Appearance of Undue Influence
This is another area of many challenges for a will or trust. Many times, a person will leave much to a family member who provides end of life care. Other family members may argue the caregiver exerted undue influence over the will or trust. Avoid this appearance by not involving any beneficiary from helping you draft your legal documents. No family members should be around when you discuss your end of life documents with your attorney.
Getting Help on Your Will or Trust from an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
Take the above steps to ensure that your will or trust goes through smoothly, and everyone receives what you believe to be fair. For legal advice on your will or trust, consider Aldrich Legal Services. We have been helping families plan for their estates for more than 21 years.