The passing of a loved one is always a stressful time. Even in times of grief, there are people in some families who love to cause drama. They may be looking to start an argument, and this is especially true once it comes time to distribute assets.
Who gets what? Did Grandma leave you the car she promised you? Did Daddy leave you the house as you expected?
Sometimes we have certain expectations when a loved one dies, and when things do not pan out, it can be frustrating. The person is no longer alive, so the estate ends up being contested. A contested estate often becomes a long and costly process.
What can you do to prevent this from happening when you die? Here are five ways to prevent contested estates.
Everything should be in place. All documents should be included and properly signed. Do not create an estate on your own. Work with a lawyer to ensure your will contains the appropriate language and is completed legally. If your lawyer tells you to do something, make sure you follow their advice. A properly executed will is harder to contest.
Do not try to hide things and expect everyone to sort things out when you are gone. Communicate with your loved ones now, while you are still alive. Meet with your heirs and discuss what is in your will and why. This will prevent any nasty surprises and allow everyone to talk things over with you if they disagree.
You can avoid having a will altogether and use a revocable living trust instead. This allows you to place all of your assets into a trust. You continue to use your assets while you are alive, but they are technically owned by the trust. Upon your death, the assets are distributed to your beneficiaries. Trusts typically cannot be contested and they are private, so a person who is not listed in it cannot see the details.
A no-contest clause states that anyone who contests the will would forfeit their share in it. This can help prevent a contest, but only if someone already has a stake in your will.
It is hard to contest a will that has been thoroughly updated. After you create an estate plan, keep it updated as major life events happen, such as births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and the acquisition and sale of assets. If you stay on top of things, your estate plan will be harder to invalidate.
When you die, your family members may try to contest your estate if they do not agree with it. By making sure everything is completed properly and communicating with loved ones, you can avoid misunderstandings.
If you are trying to challenge an estate, contact the Lincolnshire contested estates attorneys at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. We will assess your situation and help you work toward a resolution. To schedule a consultation, call our office at (847) 325-5559 or fill out the online form.