Are you worried that your family will try to contest your Estate Plan after you have passed away? I completely understand this concern because Will contests are often very damaging and ugly legal battles between family members that will never have a relationship again. Contests over intestate estates, which is what you have if you fail to plan, are more common, and just as ugly. So, as the old adage goes, Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail.
After your death, the emotions and anger your family members feel is all too often misplaced. This anger, left unchecked, can tear families apart. Sadly, the one person that has the ability to bring family members back together might be the one they just lost. This is especially true when families fight over minor children. Often what happens is the child loses Mom and Dad, and if Grandparents fight over who should be the guardians, the child also loses the Grandparents that are not awarded custody.
An attorney prepared Will or Trust is one of the best ways of minimizing a potential contest to your Will or Trust. A lawyer knows the key areas that someone would attempt to attack the validity of that Will or Trust and prepare for it. Also, lawyers ask you to think deeper than surface level and plan for and address unexpected changes in life.
So, what are the ways to strengthen weak spots in a typical Plan?
Have Your Will or Trust Prepared by an Attorney: Why is this so important? A Lawyer can custom tailor your Will or Trust in clear, specific language, ensuring the provisions work together and not in conflict with each other. Contest increase in likelihood if any of the provisions are conflicting. Wills or Trusts that you can buy from Office Depot, or from the internet on Legal Zoom, Rocketlawyer, or Nolo cannot custom tailor your Will or Trust because they cannot offer you legal advice. If you don’t know what a provision means, how are you going to know how it interacts with other provisions in your Will or Trust? Also, a lawyer will ensure that your Will is properly witnessed to ensure its validity.
Make your Will or Trust Contest Resistant: Will contests often occur around one of the following factors: 1) Mental incompetency; 2) Creating a Will based on coercion or threat; or 3) Enticing someone to make a Will based on a false promise. The signing ceremony helps to minimize Will or Trust contests as it ensures that none of the above has occurred and it has the creator swear to this in front of witnesses. Those witnesses then swear to this fact in front of an Idaho Public Notary.
Inclusion of a No Contest Clause: A no contest clause is not always required in a Will, but it can be beneficial if you believe your heirs might try to set aside your wishes. This clause states that any person receiving an inheritance, or potentially receiving an inheritance, from your Will or Trust will forfeit that inheritance if he or she contests any part of the Estate Plan. In reality, these provisions will not be upheld in court. However, just the inclusion of the clause can keep people from attempting a Will contest.
If you want to have Will or Trust created by an Attorney and increase the potential of family harmony after you have passed, call Jeppesen Law, PLLC at 208-477-1785 or sign up for our newsletter and have us contact you!