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Estate planning tricks to reduce conflict over your last will

On Behalf of | Apr 13, 2020 | Estate Planning

Your assets reflect a lifetime of hard work and self-denial, as you saved or invested what you made instead of just spending on frivolous creature comforts. It’s only natural that you have specific wishes and intentions for the money you’ve earned and the possessions you acquired throughout your life.

Creating a last will or estate plan can guide an executor or administrator that you name in the process of splitting your assets and distributing them among your heirs and beneficiaries. You may want to leave things behind for family members, close friends, or even a charity or educational institution.

Unfortunately, other people in your family may not agree with your intentions. Quite a few people choose to challenge someone’s estate plan out of unhappiness with its content. Thankfully, there are a few steps that you can take that will reduce the likelihood of someone you trust challenging your last wishes.

Make sure everything you do complies with the law

Perhaps the easiest way to wind up with an estate plan or last will that doesn’t get followed after you die is to set terms that don’t comply with state law. Although the executor or administrator may attempt to follow through with your wishes, if someone brings a challenge, the courts will probably have no choice but to side with the challenger if the terms of your last will violate state law.

In some cases, the courts could revert to an earlier version of your last will if the most recent one is problematic. If there isn’t one available or if that document also has illegal terms, the courts might choose to treat the estate as though no will exists whatsoever, meaning your closest family members will inherit almost everything.

Make sure your family members know what to expect

Quite a few people bring challenges against the last will or estate plan out of dissatisfaction with the terms. While it may not seem pleasant to discuss with your addicted child why you disinherited them or explain to your spouse why you chose to give more of your assets to the next generation than to them, being honest and up front with your intentions will prevent people from feelings of shock and disappointment when they read your will after your death.

Those dissatisfied with the terms can argue their complaints with you in person, rather than deciding to posthumously battle against your intentions and probate court. If you don’t think that disclosing your intentions will do enough to prevent people from challenging your will, you may want to include a no-contest clause that disinherits anyone who challenges your plan. Thinking about your assets and family dynamics will help you decide what approach will work best for your situation.