Disgruntled family members may resort to challenging your last will.
Family dynamics are not always simple.
Separation and divorce are a possibility.
Some children become estranged or fall into addiction.
These can be both emotionally taxing and problematic for estate planning.
According to a recent Augusta Free Press article titled “Can you prevent someone from challenging your will?,” it is important to plan strategically to keep unhappy individuals from challenging your last will and testament.
There are commonly five reasons given for challenging a last will and testament?
What are they?
The first is the deceased created a more recent last will.
The last will was signed involuntarily.
The decedent lacked capacity when signing the last will.
There were not the correct number of witnesses to the signing.
The last will was signed under mental impairment or duress.
How can you protect against individuals challenging your last will?
Secure an experienced estate planning attorney to create your will.
Unless you are an estate planning attorney, you likely do not have the legal knowledge to plan for federal and state estate laws.
Fortunately, neither Kansas nor Missouri has a state estate tax.
Do not simply write your wishes on a piece of paper and sign it.
Many states have requirements involving witnesses to the signing your last will.
Some states require one.
Others require two who cannot be beneficiaries of your estate (i.e., two are required in both Kansas and Missouri).
State the names of the intended beneficiaries in your last will.
It is important to be specific to minimize challenges to your last will.
If you want an heir to receive something, you need to name the individual.
Conversely, if you want to exclude someone from inheriting, you need to name that individual and explicitly state you are choosing to exclude him or her.
A last will also should include an executor for your estate and a guardian for any minor children.
Do not rely on a video last will.
Many states do not consider a video last will to be valid.
Be sure you have a legal hard copy last will.
You may want to avoid creating a video last will because discrepancies can lead to individuals contesting your last will.
Do not count on “free” templates.
Although downloading a template from a website seems cost effective and is very tempting, it can cost you heavily in the future.
These online will templates may be outdated or not reflect the laws of your specific state of residence.
Tell your executor where your last will is kept.
A last will is only useful if it can be found.
If the last will is missing, then people you have excluded from being heirs may seek a claim on your estate.
Be sure to leave your executor with the location of your will, trust, insurance policies, and assets.
Do not expect everything to go as you planned.
Sometimes life sends curve balls our way.
You should consider different scenarios and contingencies when creating your estate plan.
Working with an experienced estate planning attorney is the best way to minimize the possibility of someone challenging your last will.
After all he or she has likely seen it all.
Reference: Augusta Free Press (July 12, 2020) “Can you prevent someone from challenging your will?”