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4 Ways to Prevent Will Contests in Bexar County

Posted on in Estate Planning and Probate

Bexar County estate planning lawyerWhen a will is contested, the situation can quickly get ugly. Litigation regarding estates usually occurs amongst close family members, like in the case of siblings after the death of a parent. Will contests have the potential to permanently divide a family. If you anticipate that your loved ones - or not-so-loved ones - could potentially wind up taking each other to court over your estate, there are steps you can take to head off any potential conflict. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you create a more sound will or will alternative that reduces the likelihood of a contest. 

Who Should Take Steps to Prevent Future Conflict Over an Estate?

Some people may not find it necessary to take any particular measures to avoid a will contest. For others, it can be extremely important. You should consider taking precautions in these circumstances: 

  • Family conflict - If your closest relatives, including your spouse, children, or living parents, are already in a state of conflict, it is reasonable to anticipate that they may have a dispute over your estate as well. 
  • Disowned relative - If you have cut an immediate relative out of your estate plan, it is best to prepare in case they resort to contesting the will to get a share. 
  • Unusual bequest - Unexpected bequests or other big surprises in the will could cause your family to question its validity. 

How Can I Prevent Future Will Contests?

There are a few methods your attorney may use to help prevent future estate litigation. They include: 

  • No-contest clause - This clause states that anyone who contests the will gets nothing. However, it only works if you leave at least something to the relative you would like to cut out - just to deter them from filing a contest. 
  • Prove competency - Challenging the testator’s competency is a common way to attack a will. An attorney can arrange to have your competency clearly demonstrated at the time that you sign your will. 
  • Explain your decisions - A relative conspicuously missing from your estate plan, or family members shocked by a surprise bequest, may argue that you were coerced or defrauded. Leaving an explanation for why your will is as it is can defeat those arguments. 
  • Be wary of appearances - Especially when you spend a disproportionate amount of time with one family member over others - for example, if one of your adult children lives close by but the others live out of state - others may argue that the family member you are usually with exerted undue influence. Your attorney can help you develop a strategy for avoiding this appearance that may include excluding your family member from meetings about your estate. 

A little planning now can keep the peace later on. 

Call a San Antonio Estate Planning Attorney

Geoff Mayfield, Attorney at Law, is skilled at creating legally sound and highly customized wills aimed at preventing future contests. For a free consultation with a skilled San Antonio estate planning attorney, call 210-535-0870

 

Source: 

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/12/left-out-of-the-will.asp

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