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What steps can you take when estate planning to avoid a contested will down the road?

On Behalf of | May 13, 2021 | Estate Planning |

There are many reasons why individuals sit down to engage in estate planning. They do so to ensure that the wealth or assets that they amass during their life remain in the hands of those they care about most once they’re gone.

One of the biggest fears that testators have is that someone will contest their will. There are steps that testators when drafting their wills to minimize the chances of this happening.

Questions about a testator’s testamentary capacity

Most jurisdictions require witnesses to be present for a testator’s signing of their will. This ensures that someone can vouch for the testator’s soundness of mind when they sign this legally binding document. A judge may call witnesses into court to attest that you understood what assets you had and the implications of your decisions if someone contests your will. 

You can avoid a contested will by ensuring that you properly execute your will per state law. An attorney can advise you of other measures that you can take to prove your soundness of mind.

Concerns about your subjection to undue influence

An interested party can claim that someone subjected you to coercion, duress or fraud if you change your will shortly before your death to give the bulk of your assets to one or a select handful of people. 

Some of the same measures you take to prove your testamentary capacity may also be applicable in providing that no one subjected you to undue influence. You’ll definitely want to discuss the options for doing so with your estate planning attorney, so this isn’t an issue for your heirs later on. 

Options for minimizing conflict after you’re gone

You may find that adding a no-contest clause in your will is ideal. It discourages loved ones from contesting your will as it prohibits them from receiving anything if they do. Setting up a trust and drafting instructions explaining why you chose to distribute assets as you did can also be helpful. 

Most testators leave behind assets to their heirs to make their lives easier, not to give way to conflict. An attorney can help you come up with an estate plan that will keep peace among your family’s future generations.