If you have assets that you want to leave behind to people you care about, something you need to consider is how to avoid will contests. Will contests are most likely when you haven’t been clear about your wishes and when people feel slighted by how your estate has paid out following your death.
There are options for clearing the air while you’re still alive. There are also legal steps that you can take to prevent will contests in the future.
Avoiding will contests through good communication
One of the first things to consider is that you may be able to avoid future will contests by having good communication with your beneficiaries. It may be helpful to sit down with all of them at one time to go over the distribution of your estate following your death. For example, you may explain that it seems like an uneven split because you already gave a large gift to one child that the other didn’t benefit from. Alternatively, you could explain why you’ve cut someone out of the will if you no longer include them.
Avoiding will contests with legal options
Another way to help avoid will contests is to include a no-contest clause in the will. For example, you may state that anyone who contests the will and loses will lose everything you left to them. You may have those assets pass on to another beneficiary or a charity.
You may also set up individual trusts or accounts that people would have a harder time contesting. Since you will need witnesses to set up some accounts and to update your will, you may consider video recordings to prove that you signed the will, too.
As you can see, there are several ways to avoid will contests. If you know that your beneficiaries often argue or that they are likely to contest what you’ve decided, it’s worth your time to go through these options and to decide if you would like to implement any of them in your estate plan. With the right protections in place, your beneficiaries will need to abide by your decisions.