When you take the time and effort to create an estate plan including a will, obviously you’re doing so because you want to protect your family and loved ones in the event of your death, and you want your wishes to be carried out.
Even if you have a will, however, people do have the ability to contest it, which might mean that your family either loses the protection you set up for them, or they have to pay legal fees to fight the person contesting your will.
So what can you do now to ensure your will isn’t contested?
There are some things you can do, along with your estate lawyer creating your will, to add additional protection against a disputed will.
Have Your Mental Capacity Documented
One of the first grounds people use to contest a will is mental capacity. They may bring a challenge to the will saying the creator didn’t have the proper mental capacity at the time they drafted their will.
When you’re creating your will, make sure you have your estate lawyer establish your mental capacity. If there is any possibility questions could arise, you could include evidence from your medical provider.
Record Will Signing
A relatively simple way to make sure your will can’t be contested, at least not easily, is to record the signing of your will.
It should be noted, however, that this can’t be the only way you show your capacity in any U.S. state. It might just be done as one more safeguards, rather than a standalone tactic to make sure your will is protected.
Avoid Huge Surprises
If you include something in your will that might come as a big shock to your relatives, you might want to let them know when you create the document. If they know things ahead of time, it will cut down on unpleasant surprises that can lead to a contested will.
With that being said, not everyone is comfortable doing that, so that’s something that’s best left to personal discretion.
Create a Living Trust
If you’re very concerned about the potential for a heated battled over your will, you might opt for a living trust rather than a will. In many cases, living trusts are viewed as more iron-clad than a will and more enforceable.
The reason is that these trusts are also used during your life, rather than just after your death, so they’re less likely to be impacted by fraud.
No Contest Clause
A final option is adding a no contest clause, which is an option in some states, but not others. For example, Florida is a state that doesn’t allow for the no-contest clause in a will.
If you do live in a state that allows for these clauses, they are something to consider because they essentially say if someone challenges an aspect of the will they don’t receive anything.
The idea of a contested will can be upsetting, particularly if you have family members you see as being a potential problem, but when you work with your estate lawyer, it’s likely you can create solutions that will work well for you.