The death of a loved one is a difficult time for many people, and emotions are often running high. This can lead to fights over inheritance and the contents of a final will and testament. If you have concerns about your will being contested after your passing, there are some steps that you can take now to prevent this issue from occurring. At The Inheritance Recovery Attorneys, our team of dedicated professionals has seen what can happen when a will gets contested by one or more heirs, and we can help you avoid this pitfall. Call the office or contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.
Talk to Your Family About the Will
One of the easiest ways to avoid a will contest by your family is to communicate with them about the contents of your will prior to your passing. By being transparent about who will inherit what, you can avoid any nasty surprises or hurt feelings later on. This is particularly important if there is anything unique about your will. For example, if one family member is being excluded from the will or one heir will receive something of particular importance or value, it is critical to explain your choices about the will and give them an opportunity to process your decisions before you die.
Execute the Will Properly
Another way to avoid a will contest from someone in your family is to be sure that the will is executed properly. This means getting your will in writing, signed, and witnessed by at least two disinterested parties. To avoid claims of impropriety in the execution of your will, consider videotaping the signing of your will. The video can serve as proof that the will was executed properly, and give a copy of the tape to your attorney for safe keeping.
Inclusion of a No Contest Clause
You can also utilize a no contest clause in your will in order to avoid contest claims from heirs. A no contest clause in a will states that if an heir contests the contents of a will and loses, that heir forfeits the right to an inheritance in the will. This type of clause makes a potential claimant think carefully about the veracity of his or her claims before contesting a will because if the heir loses the case, he or she loses everything. However, a no contest clause only works if those who may contest the will are actually inheriting something. It does not work if that person is being excluded entirely.
Provide Proof of Competency
In addition to proving that the will was executed properly, you should also provide proof of competency to avoid any will contests based on a lack of capacity. A person is required to have testamentary capacity at the time that a will is signed. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. You can be tested by your attorney or a doctor just prior to the signing of the will and provide documentation to that effect. You can also go through a test for competency on video that proves your ability to make decisions about the distribution of your estate.
Avoid the Perception of Undue Influence
Similarly, you should also avoid the perception of undue influence in order to avoid a will contest claim on these grounds. Undue influence occurs when a person has so much influence over the person making the will that their desires supersede the desires of the testator. Typically, contests based on undue influence are made against another family member, friend, or caretaker that spends considerable time with the person who made the will. In order to avoid this, be sure to not spend an inordinate amount of time with any one family member or friend who is included in the will.
You can also have a third party present at important meetings like a will signing for independent verification that you were not unduly influenced by another person, or be sure to go to all meetings regarding the disposition of your estate alone. This can eliminate undue influence as a possible reason for contesting your will.
Talk to Our Office Now
The last thing that you want after your passing is for your will to tear your family apart. By taking active steps to avoid a will contest, you can have the peace of mind knowing that your family will be taken care of by your estate after you are gone. To learn more about avoiding will contests, call or contact The Inheritance Recovery Attorneys today.