At the Law Office of Mary C. Lagrone, we help Tennessee residents plan for the day they're no longer here. We write wills, help people set up trusts, draft powers of attorney, manage probate proceedings and a whole lot more. Indeed, we've seen it all in the world of estate planning and estate law, so we know how to build a water-tight estate plan that's appropriate for our client's needs.
One thing that we cannot do, however, is to convince the family members of our clients that their estate planning wishes were fair -- and this is especially the case after our clients have passed away. To be sure, we do everything we can to steer our clients toward estate planning solutions that won't leave their heirs feeling unfairly treated. However, in some situations -- and with some families -- there's no way that everyone is going to be happy.
When heirs are unhappy or feel left out, that's when there's the biggest danger of a will contest. Sometimes, a disgruntled family member who didn't receive what he or she felt she should receive, will contest a will to try and get it nullified. This is never easy for anyone because it extends the length of time and costs associated with probate proceedings.
One thing we advise all of our clients to do in order to minimize the chances of family infighting and/or will contests is to talk openly about their estate plans. When you openly discuss and explain the reasoning behind your plans -- preferably during a big family meeting when everyone is present -- all potential heirs will be on the same page, and they will understand why you made the decisions you made, even if they don't agree with them.
At the Law Office of Mary C. Lagrone, we've noticed that a lot of will contests happen simply because the heirs had been left in the dark. Even if an estate planner's children and other heirs don't like the estate plan, at least they know it was what their loved one wanted, and they'll be much more likely to let bygones be bygones and accept the reality of their situations after the estate planner has died.