When you create your will, the aim is that your family accepts it as your final word, that the people you say will get the things you decide, and no one will argue with that. However, as many families find out, sometimes wills can lead to bitter disagreements.
How can I reduce the risk of a will contest?
You can never entirely rule out the chance that someone tries to contest your will. What you can do is reduce the risk. Here are some steps you can take:
- Include a no-contest clause: This says that anyone who files a challenge loses their right to what they were due to get. However, courts typically still allow challenges if the person has valid grounds. So if you want to include one, make sure that the rest of your will is bombproof.
- Explain things: Most will contests happen because people do not understand your decisions. They think there must be an untoward explanation for you not leaving them as much as they hoped. They may believe the person who benefits at your expense has unduly influenced you. They might feel someone forced you to sign the will. If you have a secret child or lover to whom you wish to leave property or money, you need to tell your family about them while still alive. If the first they learn of it is when they read your will, they are more likely to file a challenge.
- Make a will early: You should update your will This can help prevent someone from claiming you were not mentally competent when you made the latest version. If there is consistency to the will versions, it will show that your decision was something you thought about for many years.
To give your will the best chances of passing unscathed, seek legal help to ensure it is written and filed accurately according to state laws. Technical inaccuracies could leave it open to contest.