When you create or update your estate plan, one of your goals should be to insure that your final wishes are fulfilled. If you are concerned about challenges to your estate plan, consider the following:
1.) Do not “do it yourself”! If you are concerned about an heir contesting your estate plan, only an experienced estate planning attorney will be able to help you create and maintain a plan that will discourage lawsuits. Also, note that unintended consequences can result from a “do it yourself” plan because a box or DVD cannot give legal advice and it’s impossible to work around laws you know nothing about.
2.) Let your family members know about your estate plan. It is not necessary to let family members know about all of the intimate details of your estate plan; at the very least they need to know that you have taken the time to create one.
3.) Use discretionary trusts for problem beneficiaries. Instead of completely disinheriting a beneficiary who may squander their inheritance or use it against your wishes, you can require the beneficiary’s share to be held in a lifetime discretionary trust and name a third party, such as a bank or trust company, as trustee. This will allow you to control when the beneficiary will receive distributions and who will inherit anything that is left when the beneficiary dies.
4.) Keep your estate plan up to date. Estate planning is not a transaction, it is an ongoing process. Therefore, as circumstances change, so should your estate plan. An up to date plan shows that you took the time to review and revise the plan as your family and financial situations changed. This, in turn, will discourage challenges since your plan will encompass your current estate planning goals.
The Bottom Line on Will and Trust Contests
Will and trust contests are on the rise. Putting together an estate plan that is designed to head off challenges will go a long way to giving you and your loved ones peace of mind.
If you are interested in learning more about how to create and maintain an estate plan that will be difficult to overturn, please call our office now.