Justin Jeppesen: How to Keep Your Family from Disputing Over Your Will

Do you fear that your heirs will try to contest your estate plan after you have passed away? That is a valid concern because Will contests (or contests over intestate estates which is what you have if you fail to plan) can be very damaging and ugly legal battles.

After losing a loved one, the emotions and anger can be misplaced and directed at an undeserving recipient. People aren’t always thinking clearly due to the clouded vision from our lost loved one. Families can be torn 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.

The best way of minimizing a potential contest is to have a professionally prepared Will or Trust. A professional knows the key areas that someone would attempt to attack the validity of that Will or Trust and prepare for it. So, how do you avoid, or decrease, the chances of this happening after you pass away?

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. The potential for contest is increased if any of the provisions are conflicting. Do-it-yourself Estate Plans from the internet, Legal Zoom, Rocketlawyer, or Nolo cannot custom tailor your Will or Trust. 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:   Three common contests of an estate plan involve: 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 a professionally created Will or Trust and increase the potential of family harmony after you have passed, call Jeppesen Law, PLLC at 208-477-1785 or visit www.jeppesenlaw.com and sign up for our newsletter and have us contact you!