You see it all the time in the news when celebrities or the very wealthy die. Their family members, heirs and even business partners or friends end up challenging the estate plan or last will. This can lead to a lengthy battle in probate court. Assets that you intended to go to loved ones could end up paying for attorney fees and court costs related to protecting your last wishes.
That's a very frustrating prospect for those who have taken the time to responsibly plan for their passing. Thankfully, you can take steps now to reduce the chances of having someone contest your will in the future. A little planning could save everyone in your family or inner circle a lot of stress and frustration at a later date.
Make sure everyone knows what to expect
Generally speaking, one of the biggest sources of challenges to estates and last wills is unmet or unrealistic expectations. Your heirs, family members and close friends may expect certain assets or imagine you intend to leave a certain amount of your estate to them. Things that were said offhand years ago could leave the wrong impression. Situations and relationships grow and change, as do families.
The best way to ensure that no one is angry enough to go to court over how you want your assets divided is to be up front with everyone. This is particularly true if you aren't leaving any assets to a close family member. Letting everyone know what to expect well before you pass on ensures that no one feels shocked when your last will or estate plan gets revealed after your passing.
You can add a clause to your will to prevent a contest
Many families have one or more members who could prove problematic during an estate. The idea of an inheritance can bring out the worst in some people.
If you believe there is someone in your will or family who may very likely challenge your estate plan or last will in the hope of getting more than you wanted to give, there's hope. You can have a clause included in your will that penalizes or even fully disinherits anyone who brings a challenge against your will.
As long as the courts uphold the will itself as valid, anyone who decided to challenge it would find themselves subject to the penalties you decide. New York allows for the enforcement of these "no contest" clauses without regard to good faith or probable cause when it comes to the person contesting the will. Telling your heirs and family members about this kind of clause can remove the incentive to challenge your will in the first place.