When a person dies, they want to know that their wishes will be carried out in the form of the will that they create. Unfortunately, that does not always go according to plan.
Some circumstances may warrant challenges to your will. A probate judge may invalidate your will if your beneficiaries are successful in challenging it. There are steps that you can take now, however, to minimize the chances of that happening once you’re gone.
Why may beneficiaries contest a will?
Beneficiaries may contest a will for a variety of reasons. One such reason may be because they argue that you didn’t update your will recently enough to reflect a change in life circumstances or what you verbally promised to them.
They may also contest your will if you never modified it to adapt to changes in existing laws. Your beneficiaries find out that laws have recently changed to better serve their interests and thus petition the court to throw out the will.
Your heirs may also question your soundness of mind when the will was drafted. You should prepare your will as soon as possible so that no one will be able to question whether you had all your faculties at the time you drafted it.
What should you do to minimize the chances of a contested will?
A “no-contest” clause can offer your heirs a difficult choice: If they contest your will and lose, they lose all entitlement to whatever you may have already left them. Such a clause is enforceable in Tennessee, and it can discourage many will contests.
Sometimes, simply communicating your plans to your heirs before you die or leaving an explanation for your decisions in your will can help resolve conflicts before they end up in court. So can setting up a revocable living trust to hold your assets and bypass the whole estate and probate process entirely.
One of the biggest mistakes that testators make is never revisiting their will or using do-it-yourself approaches. Heirs are most likely to contest these. Your estate plans are too important to leave to chance. Working with an experienced advocate is wisest.