The value of your belongings, how much effort you invested in estate planning and your family relationships will all influence how stressful and complex the administration of your estate will become.
Testators could have challenges brought against their estates after they die due to many reasons. People who suspect fraud or undue influence can challenge someone’s last wishes. So can those who believe that the will violates their statutory rights. Challenges in probate court will burn through estate assets and reduce what beneficiaries inherit.
Certain circumstances, like having children who constantly fight with one another or the choice to disinherit certain family members, might increase the likelihood of a challenge arising during probate. While you cannot control how your family members behave or treat one another, there are certain estate planning moves that you can make that will reduce the likelihood of your estate ending up contested in probate court.
You can add a trust
Instead of arranging for the transfer of your property with a will, you can create a trust instead. A trust is overall more difficult to challenge in probate court than a basic will. A trust also has the added benefit of a trustee who will oversee the distribution of your property and manage estate assets to prevent people from potentially abusing their inheritance.
You can add a no-contest clause
If you want to use a simple will but worry that a member of your family might try to challenge your last wishes, you could include a no-contest clause in your will. They are also an option when you create a trust.
A no-contest clause effectively imposes a penalty if someone contests your will in probate court. If someone challenges your last wishes, the probate courts may strip them of their inheritance as a punishment for violating your no-contest clause.
Of course, you can also reduce the likelihood of people fighting about their inheritance or feeling disappointed about your wishes by talking to family members long before you die about your estate planning intentions. Addressing issues that may lead to conflict can help those planning their estates or reviewing their existing estate planning documents as they prepare for retirement.