Having an updated last will and testament is more important than ever, especially now. However, a will that is made online or at home, poorly created, or not frequently updated can be vulnerable to contestation. What is contestation? It is the formal objection to a will’s validity because it either: a) doesn’t reflect the wishes of the person who created the will, or b) does not meet the legal standards.
Will contests should be avoided at all costs. Not only can a contest derail your final wishes, but it can also rapidly deplete your estate and wreak emotional havoc on the family members left behind. However, with proper planning and guidance from an experienced estate planning attorney, you can prevent that from happening.
Will contests are usually brought on by individuals (could be family members, close friends, or business partners) who believe they have been wrongly disinherited. However, not all of your family or friends have the ability to contest your will in court. They must have legal “standing” to file a lawsuit. Standing means that a person involved in a lawsuit will be personally affected by the outcome of the case.
The following people have the ability to contest a will in probate court:
If a will is successfully contested, then the court can declare the will invalid and “throw it out.” If there is a previous will, then the court will abide by those terms. If there are no other estate planning documents, the state’s laws of intestacy will decide who inherits what property. As you might expect, this can be a disastrous outcome for your intended beneficiaries.
Planning tip: Depending on your circumstances and goals, a trust can have superior benefits to a will; like offering better asset protection and enhanced privacy by keeping your personal information out of probate (What is Probate?). If you’d like to learn more about the differences between trusts and will, and see what is a better fit for you, call our office at (507) 288-5567.
If a person does have the legal standing to challenge your will, they must prove that the will is invalid due to one of the four reasons below:
Considering the time and expense, will contests are something you’ll want to avoid at all costs. Not only would it jeopardize your final wishes but it also causes unnecessary and painful conflict among your loved ones during an already emotionally trying time. To avoid these disastrous and painful scenarios, consider the following:
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 one’s peace of mind.
While it is easy to assume that a will or trust signed in an attorney’s office is valid, this is not always the case. Attorneys who do not specialize in estate planning may be unfamiliar with the formalities required to make a will or trust legally valid. Therefore, it is important for you to work with an attorney who is familiar with the ever-changing complexity of estate planning laws.
Our office can help you create and maintain an estate plan that will reflect your wishes and goals. We strive to create a smooth and efficient process to help you complete your estate plan. Contact us today by sending us a message or calling the office at (507) 288-5567 to get started. You can also book an appointment online if that is more convenient for you.
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