Nobody likes to think they will ever fight their family members over money, especially money or property that is given to them from someone else. However, the reality of the situation is that estates are challenged all the time and usually from within the family. It’s a common point of contention and it’s something that will quickly drive a family completely apart. If you have questions about challenging a will, here are some common situations and ways to prevent your loved ones from unnecessary fighting after you are gone.
Know What You Want
After you are gone, only the words in your Will can determine how your worldly goods are disbursed. You will not be here to interpret what you meant if anything is challenged, or questioned. Without a Will, or with a Will that is open to challenge, there is no guarantee that what you wanted is going to happen. For example, let’s say you have no children but you are very close to your Nephew, Sonny. You want to leave your money to him. But you only want to do that if he finishes college. So, what do you want if he never finishes college? Or decides to never attend college? Always make sure you know what you want to do with your property, real and personal.
Explain What You Want
Knowing what you want is a big part of the picture. To keep someone from challenging your Will, you also need to be accurate in explaining what you want. In the example above about your Nephew, Sonny, you decided to leave him everything that you have provided he finishes college. You decided he needs to complete his first degree by the age of 25. That needs to be spelled out in the Will so that it is not left up to a Court’s interpretation later, after you are gone.
In order to create a solid Estate Plan, your Will should be specific. If you are leaving some things to Sonny but not everything, who is receiving the other items? Perhaps you want to leave some items to charity? Maybe you want to leave certain people out of your Will so there is no confusion that you did not want them to have anything. For example, let’s imagine that Joey has two children. In our scenario, Joey has decided to leave everything to his daughter. Joey needs to be very specific about leaving out his son so that there is no confusion about it at a later date.
Follow the Law
The area of law that governs Wills is complex. In order for the Will to be valid and therefore less open to challenges, there are legal aspects which must be followed. It is important that you learn about these. Hiring a knowledgeable attorney is important. He can guide you and save you time and money by creating your Estate Plan the way you want it but in accordance with the law.
Choose Someone You Trust
Finally, a Will needs a personal representative or executor. That is a person who will oversee things on your estate after you are gone. It is critical that this person is someone you fully trust. It shouldn’t be the main person who will be receiving a bulk of your Estate. Especially if you believe there could be challenges. This is to avoid the perception of coercion or duress. In our example above, Joey has two children, a son and daughter. He chose to give only to one of them. The other may challenge the will and may say that the daughter influenced the father which is evidenced by the fact that she is now the personal representative of the Will and is the only person named in the document and is taking everything, leaving him completely out. As you can see, it would be better if there was a personal representative who was named that gained nothing after the death who acted as a buffer. An experienced Estate lawyer can guide you on the best decision for your specific situation.
Questions About Challenging a Will
Creating a Will the right way can be tricky without proper guidance. Jason is here to help you plan your full Estate plan or to get you on the right track with your Will. He has years of experience working with families to make sure you have piece of mind knowing that your wishes will be taken care of after you are gone.