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Safeguarding wills against contestation

On Behalf of | Nov 3, 2023 | Estate Planning

The will is the final embodiment of people’s desires once they pass. It provides clear instructions on the distribution of assets, including valuable and sentimental items, among heirs and beneficiaries.

However, individuals may seek to overturn these last wishes by contesting wills. Taking certain precautions can help prevent such disputes and ensure a smoother handover of assets to their intended recipients.

Be clear and transparent

One of the most effective ways to prevent a will contestation is to make the will as clear and transparent as possible. Individuals need to clearly state their intentions regarding the distribution of assets, including details about specific properties, investments and personal belongings while avoiding any ambiguous wording. It may also help to leave a handwritten letter or recording explaining the reasoning behind each decision to avoid claims that the deceased was not in his or her right mind while writing the will. Being transparent with the heirs while alive can help avoid shock and outrage later and give the inheritors time to acclimate to the contents of the will.

Have witnesses

Having witnesses present as the will signing can add credibility and authenticity to the document. Witnesses who are not beneficiaries offer even more credibility. It can also help to get the will notarized, as this provides an official record of its authenticity, making it more difficult to contest.

Include no-challenge clauses

Individuals who have specific potential contestants in mind can counter them by including no-challenge clauses. These penalize these individuals if they challenge the will, meaning they could lose any inheritance they might get. Leaving token amounts to certain individuals also prevents claims that the deceased simply forgot to include them.

CNBC reports that a poll revealed that interfamily interactions are one of the biggest hurdles in estate planning. Wills can send families hurtling off an edge into a full-fledged war, especially when they involve large assets. While they may not be able to prevent infighting after their decease, by acting preemptively, individuals can help secure their wills from possible contestation.