Each will or trust needs a no contest clause to stifle potential litigation. If a natural heir or beneficiary is angered or hurt by your family situation or asset distribution, he may file a will or trust contest. You can lessen the chances of a contest, by implementing these tips. If a contest is made, the no contest clause provides that the contesting beneficiary receives nothing. This is great incentive to leave your estate plan alone.
- Always include a contest clause in your will or trust
- Use the contest clause to incorporate other estate planning documents, such as a personal memorandum for the distribution of tangible personal property
- When you update, include a new contest clause in the amendments or updates
- Don’t totally disinherit any natural beneficiary (i.e. children or grandchildren) even if you despise him. If he has nothing to lose and is hurt by the disinheritance, he’ll sue.
- If you insist on disinheriting someone, don’t just fail to mention her. Instead, specifically name her in your will or trust.
- Don’t include why you’re disinheriting that person in your will or trust, because doing such may provide grounds for contest as the disinherited person seeks to prove the circumstances you cite aren’t true. Instead, explain anything you have to say in a separate letter, but don’t be mean. If you haven’t said it during your lifetime, don’t say it at your death. People will sue because they’re angry or hurt even if recovering any money is slim. Litigation will be a financial and emotional drain on your beneficiaries and executor or trustee.
- If there’s any chance that a natural heir or beneficiary may contest your will by claiming incapacity to execute a will or trust or undue influences and duress, consult with your estate planning attorney and take extra precautionary measures to avoid such. Your attorney may recommend a statement from your doctor or a video tape of you explaining and signing your will or trust.
Every estate plan needs to incorporate no contest clauses; ask your estate planning attorney how.
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