Many families aren’t picture-perfect — yours included. You have relatives that you don’t get along with and you don’t want any of them to benefit from your hard work should you die before them. Your estate plans and will reflect that sentiment.
Unfortunately, even the best-designed will can end up being contested.
Who can potentially contest your will?
Any intestate heirs or heirs you’ve previously listed in other wills can stake a claim to your estate by contesting your will. Various relatives, including current and former spouses, kids, grandchildren, siblings and parents may be able to stake a claim to your estate as an interested party. So. too. might unrelated individuals or entities, such as pets, friends and charitable organizations if they believe they were promised something.
Can you stop a will contest before it starts?
The more surprised someone is about being disinherited, the more likely they are to mount a challenge to your will. You can minimize the chances of them finding out about their exclusion during the probate process by giving that would-be heir advance notice of your plans.
If the prospect of doing that makes you uncomfortable, then you might want to be clear about your intentions by documenting the reasons for excluding them from your will. That can go a long way toward clearing up any allegations that they were merely “forgotten” in the estate plans.
A carefully crafted will and other estate planning documents can help your estate avoid the probate process or ensure that it proceeds smoothly. Your grieving loved ones will appreciate your advanced consideration.