There are many reasons why individuals sit down to do estate planning. One big factor that motivates them is choosing what happens with their assets instead of allowing the intestate succession rules to apply instead.
What happens, however, if someone contests your will? There are various reasons why beneficiaries challenge wills. Understanding more about those reasons can help you proactively plan ahead to prevent them.
Why do beneficiaries contest wills?
One of the more common reasons that beneficiaries contest wills is because they don’t believe that the one filed with the probate court is a testator’s most recent testament. Beneficiaries may be most inclined to believe this when the will seems to deviate from what a testator and their heirs might have previously discussed. This may also happen if the will appears not to mention a recent change in circumstance, such as a new spouse.
Another common reason a will may get contested is if beneficiaries are concerned about the testator’s mental acuity at the time the will was drafted. Questions about mental capacity often come up when a will is made right before a testator’s death that is substantially different than prior wills.
What can you do to minimize the chances of a contested will?
One option you can pursue to minimize the chances of beneficiaries contesting a will is to advise them of its contents once you draft it. This gives them an idea of what to expect. You may want to go over why you made certain choices with them and also include documentation to that effect with your other estate documents.
It can also be helpful if you include a no-contest clause in your will. Anyone who contests your will may end up with nothing, depending on the jurisdiction. Your funding of a revocable living trust may result in less of a chance of in-fighting between beneficiaries over assets after your death as well.
Avoiding a contested will is important if you want to ensure that your assets go where you intended after you’re gone. Peace of mind can be had when you have an airtight will and other estate planning documents in place.