Will contests are one of the biggest challenges that families can face after the death of their loved ones. They often occur when emotions are charged, and individuals feel that they haven’t received their fair share of inheritance.
Will contests divide families and prevent a person’s wishes from being carried out. In some cases, resolving will contests can take years. Thankfully there are ways to avoid a will contest and prevent conflicts that may arise during the execution of a will.
Addressing Will Contests Early
Fraud or improper execution of a will can cause family members to challenge your wishes. It may be believed that an individual drafted the will under the influence of another party.
The mental capacity and health of a person can also cast doubt on the accuracy of a will.
The best way to prevent a will contest is to draft it as early as possible, demonstrating that you’re fully capable of making decisions related to the distribution of property and other assets.
By creating a will that outlines all of your goals for the future, you’ll prevent unwanted and potentially costly will contests brought forth by family members.
Why Contest a Will?
Will contests can occur as a result of legal technicalities. If a will wasn’t signed according to state laws, a will might be deemed invalid.
The person who creates a will is known as a testator. The capacity of the testator to create a will consists of an understanding of the value of their assets and the individuals who will inherit them.
Legal obligations must be understood to ensure that your will is valid and avoid future contests.
Testators who are in a compromised physical or mental state can fall victim to outside influences. Undue influence can result from physical abuse, verbal threats, or withholding a person’s will.
Preventing Will Contests
There are many ways to protect loved ones from a will contest. Including an in terrorem clause prevents challenges to the terms of your will.
An in terrorem clause, also known as a no-contest clause, can place a person at risk of legal action if they contest your will. Individuals can potentially lose their inheritance simply by challenging its validity.
Have an experienced estate planning professional help you create and execute your will. They’ll guide you through the process and ensure that you have met all of the legal requirements.
Communicating with family members at the time that your will is drafted provides them with the information they need to understand your decisions, preventing the confusion that often leads to will contests.
Another way to avoid a will contest is to document your signing of the will. Many people record the process on video so that courts and family members can confirm that your will was drafted when you had the full capacity to do so.
Using an in terrorem clause and working with a skilled estate planner gives you peace of mind in knowing that your family will be taken care of according to your wishes after you’re gone.