Avoiding Will Contests
Sometimes children think they’re entitled to a super-sized portion of the parents’ estate. And sometimes children think they should receive an inheritance regardless of how neglectful — or even hostile – toward the parents they have been over the years.
In those circumstances, there is a need to shore up an estate plan to be sure there can be no successful effort to have the parents’ Will or Trust thrown out.
Here are some tips that can help:
Include a “no contest” provision in the documents that declares that any person who attempts to have the Will or Trust declared legally invalid is not to receive any inheritance. And, if you have a specific child who you fear may start a fight, name that child in this section so that a judge will understand that you really, really intended to exclude this child.
You should also be sure that you at least name all your children in the Will or Trust so it’s clear that you didn’t simply forget about the one that is not to participate in the inheritance. If a child can convince a court that mom and dad forgot about him or her, there’s a chance a judge will fix the “error” by setting aside a share of the estate for that child. So, by simply declaring in the document that “My children are . . .,” that will defeat any claim based on the parents’ supposed forgetfulness.
If parents are starting to experience forgetfulness opening up the possibility that they lack the required mental capacity to make a Will, it would be good to have the parents visit with their physicians shortly after the documents are signed to have the doctors document the fact that they still are medically capable of making a Will or Trust. A short note from the doctor confirming their mental competence should be stored with the Will or Trust.