How to Prevent Family Disagreements in Contested Estates

Family disagreements in contested estates are extremely common. While there isn’t really any way to guarantee that your estate won’t be contested after your death, there are several steps you can take to help prevent this outcome. For instance, talking about your estate plan openly with your family members can help avoid confusion and disputes down the road. To learn more about what other measures could help you avoid a legal dispute within your own family, please contact our experienced attorney Alan G. Orlowsky today.

Don’t Procrastinate Your Estate Planning To Avoid Family Disagreements In Contested Estates

One of the best ways to avoid a will contest is to make sure you create an estate plan when it is clear you can still make informed decisions. The sooner you create an estate plan, the better, as doing so will give you time to get your goals in order and explain your wishes to loved ones. Furthermore, those who wait until old age or ill health to create their estate plans, risk having their beneficiaries question their judgment, which could be grounds for a will contest later.

Include a No-Contest Clause To Avoid Family Disagreements In Contested Estates

No-contest clauses are provisions that testators can include in their wills and revocable trusts stating that if anyone attempts to challenge their estate plan and is unsuccessful, then he or she won’t receive anything from the estate. While this can be a strong deterrent when it comes to contesting an estate, it’s important for testators to remember that these kinds of clauses are strictly construed by Illinois courts. This means that if the provision is deemed ambiguous in any way, then it will be interpreted in favor of the beneficiary who is challenging the estate.

Talk to Your Loved Ones To Avoid Family Disagreements In Contested Estates

Another way to help avoid a will contest is to let your loved ones know what is contained in your estate plan, as well as your reasons for drafting it the way you did. By keeping your beneficiaries informed, you can eliminate any big surprises down the road.

Review Your Estate Plan

Just because you planned your estate does not mean that your work is done. In fact, most people are strongly encouraged to review their plan and many any changes as necessary. Regularly reviewing your estate plan can help show your loved ones that you have been attentive and have not forgotten to account for anyone or any asset. This, in turn, can help convince beneficiaries that your will is an accurate and up-to-date version of your wishes.

Establish a Living Trust

To prevent a will contest, you may also want to consider avoiding the creation of a will at all and instead, create a revocable living trust. Trusts allow those who establish them (trustors) to place all of their assets in one place, where they can still continue to use and spend the assets. Upon the trustor’s death, however, the assets in the trust will be distributed to the remaining beneficiaries according to the trustor’s wishes. Trusts don’t go through probate and so are generally much more difficult to contest than wills.

Call Today for Help With Your Case

To speak with an experienced Chicagoland lawyer about the best way to avoid the contesting of your own estate, please call Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law at 847-325-5559 today.

Updated as of July 2019
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