A contested will can throw a family into turmoil. That’s why it’s crucial to ensure your will remains legally binding during the estate planning process, whether you have numerous assets or just a few treasured belongings. TheBalance.com explains how you can arrange your will so there is little chance of it being contested.
Include an In Terrorem Clause
An in terrorem or no contest clause basically states that anyone who files suit as a result of a will is no longer privy to any proceeds of that estate. While this clause can deter people from contesting a will, it can have some downsides depending on which state you live in. For instance, in California no contest clauses are applicable but only under certain circumstances. Be sure to read up on the laws in your state to make certain that a no contest clause will hold power.
Opt for a Revocable Living Trust
Wills are public record that practically anyone can access. Conversely, revocable living trusts are private documents, which in and of itself can prevent disgruntled family members from contest their lack of inclusion in an estate plan. Additionally, trusts can be arranged in such a way that you can control how assets are meted out to a beneficiary. This can allow you to retain more control of asset dispersion while also reducing the chance that an heir would be unhappy with what he or she received.
Keep Your Estate Plan to Yourself
While it’s important to inform trustworthy people in your life about your estate plan and its contents, you should refrain from providing this information numerous people. This is especially true if you choose to cut out a loved one from your will, which is bound to evoke hard feelings (and maybe even a lawsuit) should the information make its way back to the person. With those you do communicate with be sure to explain your wishes and why you made the decisions you did.