If you go through the effort of creating an estate plan, odds are you also want to avoid contested estates down the road. While it isn’t possible to guarantee a person won’t try to contest a will, there are ways to help protect an estate plan from such attempts. If you are concerned a family member may contest your own will, you should consider taking the following steps to prevent unnecessary conflict upon your death. Please call our dedicated Lincolnshire estate planning lawyer Alan G. Orlowsky for help determining which of these options is right for your family.
Make Sure Your Will is Executed Properly
Wills can only be contested for a few different reasons, one of which is the document wasn’t properly executed. To ensure an heir doesn’t try to contest a will for this reason after your own death, you should consult with an attorney who can make sure that your own will is properly signed, witnessed, and kept in a safe place.
Similarly, creating a video recording of the will signing can help demonstrate your mental capacity at the time of the execution, which can also stop a will contest in its tracks. Finally, to avoid the appearance of undue influence, you should avoid having those who are inheriting something under your will, act as witnesses or be overly involved in the estate planning process.
No Contest Clauses Help Avoid Contested Estates
Illinois law also allows testators to include no-contest clauses in their estate plans, which essentially penalize or disinherit anyone who tries to challenge the plan in court. While this risk of disinheritance is often enough to prevent an heir from filing a claim in probate court, it is also true that no-contest clauses are not necessarily an airtight option. This is because some Illinois courts will only enforce these clauses if they believe that the petitioner’s contest isn’t being made in good faith.
Talking to Your Heirs To Prevent Contested Estates
One of the best (and simplest) ways to ensure that an heir or relative won’t contest a will after your death is to explain your plans to those individuals ahead of time. While it may seem morbid to discuss your estate with loved ones, it can go a long way towards helping interested parties avoid feeling shocked or upset by the contents of the estate plan later on. If your loved ones understand why you made a certain arrangement and are able to see that you have clearly considered your options, they may be less likely to contest your estate plan after your death.
Preventing a Will Contest After Your Death
If you have questions about contested estates in Chicagoland, including how to protect your own estate plan, please reach out to the dedicated estate planning lawyers at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law today. You can reach a member of our legal team to set up an initial consultation by calling our office at 847-325-5559 or by completing one of our online contact forms.