Have You Created a Will Contest?
One clear thought to have in the front of your mind when you are preparing each provision of your will is this - have I created a will contest? That is, have I specified an act which is likely to lead to one or more of my relatives, or friends, or others to contest my will? Naturally, it is bad enough to be in probate court, probating your will. An even worse situation is to have your executor be forced into defending your intentions in an estate battle or will contest.
Will contests can arise in any number of forms, or for a variety of reasons. However, most result from a person or group of persons who thought they were entitled to a portion of your estate, but were not given it under the terms of the will. Usually, these persons might contest your will by:
- seeking to show that the will presented to the court is not the will which you made
- saying that you were incompetent at the time you made the will
- wanting to consider another will
- saying the court should act as if no will was made by following the laws of intestacy in your state
While you must know all the rules to be certain of how to avoid contests, common sense thinking about what could go wrong with the gifts made will go a long way towards avoiding them. Needless to say, will contests only add to the costs of probate, and end up wasting the assets which you would otherwise leave to your heirs.
Several examples of how things can go wrong might help you give thought to making gifts. One example is where a divorce and remarriage occurs and the second spouse has children which become part of the family. Continuation of this situation for a numbers of years might bring speculation or even the expectation that the children of the second spouse may have rights to the estate. Careful thought in this area can help to either alleviate or at least consider their interests.
One thing is pretty clear - ignoring potential problems will likely not make them go away. To avoid will contests, draft your will carefully. If you need help, contact member services and speak to an attorney.