When you are planning your estate, you should try to envision the estate administration process that will unfold after you pass away. There are things that you can do to make sure that it goes smoothly so that your loved ones can receive their inheritances in a timely, stress-free matter.
Careful advance planning is especially important if you are going to make certain decisions that will not sit well with one of your children or someone else that will be expecting an inheritance. If you do not take the right steps, an estate challenge can cause a firestorm.
In this post, we will share four things that you can do to make an estate challenge less likely.
Put the procrastination behind you.
Surveys conducted find that the vast majority of American adults do not have any estate planning documents in place. Strangely enough, most of the unprepared individuals feel as though it is important, but they have just not gotten around to it.
There are many reasons why you should take action, and prevention of a messy estate administration situation is one of them. When there is no document that asserts your wishes, the probate court would be forced to sort it all out under the intestate succession laws.
Competing contentions may be presented by potential inheritors, and the probate process can be messy and time-consuming. In the end, the assets would be distributed under the succession statutes, and the outcome may not be consistent with your wishes.
There is no reason to take any chances with intestacy. Estate planning is one of the core responsibilities of adulthood, and if you are unprepared, you should take action sooner rather than later.
Include a no-contest clause.
If you create a will or a living trust, you can take a legal step to make it difficult for someone to contest the terms. A no-contest clause can be included, and this would trigger the total disinheritance of anyone that challenges the terms that are set forth in the document.
A disgruntled party could still go forward and risk their inheritance, but they would have to think it was worth the gamble. They could risk it if they would receive a pittance, and this is something to keep in mind when you are making decisions.
Use a living trust instead of a simple will.
When a will is used as an asset transfer vehicle, the testator names an executor to act as the administrator. After the passing of the testator, the will would be admitted to probate, and the court would provide supervision during the administration process.
One of the functions of the court is to determine the validity of the document presented. If anyone wants to issue a challenge, they can come forward and make an argument during probate, so there is a built-in opportunity.
The administration of a living trust takes place outside of probate, so there is no forum for an estate challenge. Someone could choose to file a lawsuit to contest the terms, but this is more complicated, and there will be significant legal fees.
These disincentives coupled with the no-contest clause will usually take the wind out of the sails of a would-be estate challenger.
Keep your estate plan up-to-date.
If your estate plan has not been looked at in decades, a contention that its contents did not reflect your true wishes at the time of your passing could make sense. With this in mind, you should review your estate plan with your attorney every couple of years so it is always current.
This will help to short-circuit an estate contest, and it is likely that your estate plan will need revisions over the years. Circumstances in your life can evolve, and there can be legislative changes that impact portions of your estate plan.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
Our doors are open if you are ready to work with an Oklahoma City estate planning lawyer to put a plan in place.
Each situation is different, and the ideal way to proceed will depend on the circumstances. Personalized legal attention is the key to a properly constructed plan, and this is what you will receive when you choose our firm.
You can schedule a consultation appointment if you call us at 405-843-6100, and you can use our contact form to send us a message.