Ultimately, an estate plan ensures your wealth and assets transfer to your beneficiaries according to your wishes without any interference or delays. However, even if you have all of your end-of-life plans in order, the best-laid plans can go awry if a relative decides to contest your will.
A will contest is a lawsuit that challenges the validity of a last will and testament. A beneficiary cannot contest your will simply because they aren’t happy with their inheritance; however, they might argue the will isn’t valid due to undue influence or coercion, mental incapacity or a procedural error. If you have concerns about a family member taking your will to probate litigation, here are a few ways you can prevent a will contest:
Keep your plan updated
Estate plans must remain up to date after they are in effect to ensure they reflect your current circumstances and last wishes. It’s vital to update your plan when you are undeniably healthy and of sound mind to prevent a beneficiary from arguing your will isn’t valid. You can prove your competency with the help of a witness, videotape or a doctor’s diagnosis when you update your documents.
Add a no-contest clause
Many people are surprised to learn that they can include a no-contest clause in their will to help protect it from disgruntled heirs. A no-contest clause states that anyone who tries to challenge your will’s validity won’t receive anything from your estate. Most heirs would prefer to get some share of the wealth as opposed to nothing.
Inform your heirs in advance
One of the best ways to avoid any family drama after you pass on is to let your beneficiaries know what they can expect from their inheritance. For example, if you are planning to leave less money to one of your kids because they have proven irresponsible with their spending, writing them a letter or having a conversation with them when you are healthy is better than letting it be a surprise when you’re gone.
Death is hard on everyone. By taking additional steps to protect your will’s validity, you can ensure that your legacy is passed on according to your wishes.