4 Ways to Avoid Estate Planning Litigation
Generally, people are free to execute wills and other estate planning tools that disburse their property and assets in a manner they deem fit. Unfortunately, however, it is not uncommon for people to challenge will provisions after their loved ones have passed away, and in many cases, such challenges lead to protracted lawsuits. There are measures people can take to avoid estate planning litigation in the future, however. If you have questions about what estate planning tools best suit your needs and how you can prevent your estate plan from being disputed after your death, it is in your best interest to contact an estate planning attorney as soon as possible.
Ways to Avoid Estate Planning Litigation
1. Develop Your Estate Plan With an Attorney
The easiest way to avoid estate planning litigation is to develop your estate plan with an experienced attorney. There are numerous rules that apply to the execution of wills and other estate planning documents, and the courts strictly construe such rules. As such, people without a thorough knowledge of the statutory requirements can easily make mistakes or overlook issues that can lead to substantial issues in the future. An estate planning attorney typically will possess the skills and experience needed to establish a litigation-proof plan. Additionally, as estate planning attorneys are typically neutral parties, developing an estate plan with an attorney can help avoid allegations that one party’s undue influence unjustly swayed the person whose estate plan is called into question.
2. Make Sure the Provisions of Your Will are Clear and Thorough
It is also essential to ensure that the terms of any estate planning tool, like a will or a trust, are clearly defined and account for all applicable property. In other words, instead of drafting a will that states I leave my property equally to my children, a will should name the children and dictate whether the child’s share should pass on to their descendants in the event that they predecease the testator. It is also wise to include all of your final wishes in a single document, if possible so that there is no confusion regarding which terms apply.
3. Convey Your Wishes to Your Loved Ones
You may also be able to avoid estate planning litigation by conveying your wishes to your loved ones after your will is complete to avoid any shock or confusion after your passing. While they may not agree with your desires, if they have time to adjust and adapt to the directives in your will, they may be less likely to challenge them after your death.
4. Add a No-Contest Clause
Additionally, you may consider adding a no-contest clause to your will, which essentially states that anyone challenging the will will be disinherited. While they are not infallible, the Washington courts generally enforce such clauses, and they can be effective in preventing estate planning litigation.
Contact a Knowledgeable Estate Planning Attorney Today
Parties may not agree with how you choose to disburse your assets after your death, but with careful estate planning, you can generally prevent your beneficiaries from having to undergo the stress of litigation. If you would like to develop or review your estate plan, it is smart to contact a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to discuss your options today. Call our office at 425-284-3450 or fill out our contact form and we will be in touch to schedule a meeting.
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