“If you have concerns about a will challenge, the first thing that you should do is talk to the attorney.”
The Northwest Indiana Times says in its recent article, “Choosing an executor,” that will challenges are pretty rare. A successful contest can stem from an issue with the will making process.
That’s all the more reason to use an experienced estate planning attorney to help you create your estate plan. It’s the common mistakes that cause the most trouble, especially when a person tries to save money and do it themselves. If you work with an attorney who focuses on wills and estates in your state, he or she will know when a law changes—and how it can impact your plans and objectives for your legacy.
The time to think about a possible will contest or challenge is in the initial planning process. If you and your attorney discuss your concerns from the start, he or she can plan around them and design tactics that can avoid or reduce the chances of a will contest.
It’s much simpler to tackle a problem now, than to try to solve it later after you’re not around. When working with your lawyer, the more information you offer, the more likely the problem can be addressed and avoided.
For example, if you are considering favoring a daughter who has taken care of you for many years but worry that the other children will be upset, discuss this with your estate planning attorney.
Your attorney may ask you to get a letter from your physician. That letter should confirm that, that in his or her medical opinion, you’re of sound mind and have the capacity to make your own decisions. Capacity is a common challenge to a will. A begrudged heir may claim you were not mentally capable of signing a will.
Your attorney may also record the will signing, so there’s evidence that you weren't under another person’s influence or pressured into signing the will. Don’t be surprised if your attorney asks that the care-giving child isn’t at the signing, to lessen the concern of undue influence.
Some folks will leave a person they intend to disinherit a dollar. That won't do anything, except cost your estate a dollar. Just because you left them a dollar, doesn't mean they can't challenge the will.
Some people also want to have a term in the will stating that anyone who challenges the will is disinherited. However, that is not a 100% lock. This provision, known as an in terrorem clause, is unenforceable in many states.
Speak with an experienced estate planning attorney and plan for the challenge. Odds are it will never arise. However, if it does, by taking these steps, your family will be ready and your wishes will be honored.
One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation. Call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about your estate plan, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security. Our office is located in Santa Ana, CA but we serve all of California including Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Newport Beach, and Anaheim.
For more information and articles on estate planning, probate, and trust law, please visit our website and request our free monthly e-newsletter.
Reference: The Northwest Indiana Times (September 3, 2017) “Choosing an executor”