We all have heard tales of heated disputes among family members following the death of a loved one. When a beneficiary becomes unhappy with the amount he or she received under your will (or maybe with not having received anything), he or she may have grounds to file for a will contest. This usually extends the probate process, causing delays and even more tension in the family. While it is impossible to fully prevent your will from being contested, there are some measures you can implement to reduce the chance that a challenge may happen—or make it a lot harder for any beneficiary to initiate one.
What Is Needed To Contest A Will?
For starters, a beneficiary needs to have enough grounds to challenge your will. Simply being unhappy with the share of assets he or she received is not sufficient reason. He or she must show proof that the will was not executed properly, or that you were under the undue influence of someone else at the time you signed the will. He or she may also claim that you did not have the proper mental capacity to execute the will at the time it was written and signed, or that the will is fraudulent.
How Do I Keep The Will From Being Challenged?
The first thing you can do is to make sure your will is properly executed. Hiring an experienced Clarksville estate planning attorney is important to help you properly draft and execute the will and to collect the signatures from two witnesses. Another popular option—and perhaps the most effective—is to add a no-contest clause to your will, which basically determines that any heir that challenges a will and loses will receive nothing. This is usually enough incentive for beneficiaries to not contest the will for frivolous reasons.
You can prove you were in full control of your mental capacities and were competent enough to sign the will by having an attorney assist you by making sure the will includes results from a competency test (which can be administered by a doctor and can be as simple as answering a series of questions). You can also record a video of you signing your will to show additional proof of mental capacity, as well as to show the court and your family members that you signed your will freely and under nobody’s influence. You can also choose to have your will notarized, so it may be harder for beneficiaries to claim it was produced under fraudulent circumstances.
Is There Any Guarantee That A Will Can Remain Uncontested?
Keep in mind that none of these strategies are fail-proof, and you will need to check with your attorney to see which ones would work best for your situation and with the laws of your state. Your attorney can make recommendations to help you execute your will in a way that it may be less likely to be contested. Crow Estate Planning and Probate, PLC has a team of skilled attorneys ready to help you with all your estate planning needs. Contact our office to learn more and get started protecting the future of your family.