How to protect your estate from disgruntled or feuding heirs
By Alan G. Orlowsky, J.D., C.P.A.
Will your death trigger a long, expensive, and bitter inheritance war? Will your heirs battle over your contested estate — claiming, for example, that they deserve a bigger share of the money, arguing over who is most qualified to serve as executor, or debating whether you were competent when you signed your will?
Unfortunately, for many of you, the answer is yes: Your heirs will literally spend a fortune contesting your will and litigating issues that may even seem trivial. Often such battles are motivated not by questions of fairness and equity, or even financial gain, but by an irrational desire to resolve old sibling rivalries or perpetuate a family feud.
Fortunately, you can take precautions now — and you should, especially if you recognize that some of your family members don’t get along all that well — to head off conflicts, prevent headaches and heartaches, minimize legal expenses, and avoid long delays. A good estate planning attorney will advise you to take steps to prevent such conflicts, including the following:
The four most common legal grounds for contesting a will or trust are the following:
Alan G. Orlowsky, President of Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. in Lincolnshire, Illinois, has been counseling people on estate planning for over 30 years. He previously worked for the IRS in its Estate and Gift Tax Division. He also worked for the Deloitte & Touche accounting firm, and he has taught taxation and accounting at Loyola University of Chicago, School of Business.
Al is a contributing author of the book 21st Century Wealth (Esperti Peterson Institute, Denver, 2000), and has written numerous articles and blogs on the subject of estate planning. Contact Alan Orlowsky by email or call 847-325-5559.
Updated September, 2019