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The last thing you want after you pass is for your family members to squabble over your estate. Unfortunately, even with forethought and planning, loved ones may challenge the validity of your will and final wishes, throwing your estate into a potentially long, drawn-out legal process.
So, how can you avoid having your will contested by family members? A Prince William County will lawyer may suggest the following estate planning strategies:
Communicate Your Wishes with Family Members
One of the reasons family members choose to contest the will of a loved one is that they don’t understand the motivation behind their family member’s decisions. Communication between you and your family members is vital. Take the time to explain your thought process to your family and lay out why dividing your estate a certain way is meaningful to you. You may also wish to include a letter of intent sharing the reasons behind your decisions.
Add a No Contest Clause to Your Will
It is possible to avoid a challenge to your will by adding a no-contest clause. A no-contest clause states that if an heir to your estate challenges your will and loses, they are prohibited from inheriting anything. However, that may mean you need to leave sufficient assets or property to a family member that they will not want to risk challenging your will.
Offer Proof You Are of Sound Mind
One of the most common ways family members will attempt to challenge the validity of your will is by arguing that you were not mentally competent at the time the document was created or signed. You can head off this argument by having an attorney and medical provider help you draft a competency evaluation report. A report from a psychiatrist or psychologist, created at the time your will is executed, can help establish that you were of sound mind.
Consider Other Means of Transferring Property
As a part of your estate plan, you may consider using other means to transfer property and assets to family members. Creating a trust fund can help family members avoid the process of probate and create legal boundaries that a will cannot offer. Utilizing beneficiary designations can also help pass assets outside of a will so that your wishes cannot be contested.
Record the Signing
You may also want to consider creating a video recording of the signing of your will. Producing a video can help demonstrate to family members and the court that you are signing the document of your own volition. It can also help establish that you agree with the contents.
Need Help Drafting a Will? Consult an Experienced Attorney
If you need help drafting a solid estate plan that will hold up to potential challenges from family members, seek the advice of an experienced Prince William County will lawyer. We are here to give you vital legal advice and offer peace of mind. To get started, simply call our office at 708-492-9955 to schedule a consultation.