I’m preparing my will. I know some of my family won’t like the way I’m distributing my assets. How can I stop challenges to my will?
Your will can be contested if someone in your family doesn’t like your beneficiaries or who you left your money or assets to or how much you left someone. An estate litigation attorney can protect your rights and your interests and work with you to prevent or minimize future challenges.
We see most wills contested on 4 common grounds:
Someone who is determined to challenge your estate plan may sue your estate despite all your plans. But there are steps you can take to minimize their success and to make it less likely they challenge your will that results in costly and time-consuming estate litigation.
A knowledgeable estate planning attorney can ensure that the terms of your will are clear and comply with current laws. All lawyers do not have expertise in wills and estate planning, so make sure your lawyer has experience in estate planning in your state. For example, in Illinois, you must have two witnesses watch you sign your will in order for it to be valid.
Someone may allege that the estate owner lacked full mental capacity at the time he or she signed his or her will. An estate planning lawyer can help you show you were competent to draft your will by having a signed doctor’s statement of competency and having the will witnesses sign that you were “of sound mind and memory” when you signed your will.
When you sign your will, tell your family members and executor the terms of your will. If they understand the reasons behind your decisions and they have an opportunity to ask you questions, they will be less likely to contest the will – particularly if the rest of your heirs know why you made those decisions.
A will executed long ago that doesn’t take into account changes to your beneficiaries or your assets such as family births, marriage or divorces or the growth of a business, is more likely to be challenged. A regular review of your estate plan with your attorney will demonstrate the clarity of your intentions.
An Illinois estate planning lawyer can protect your rights and your interests and work with you to prevent or minimize potential challenges to your will. Consulting an experienced probate, trust and estates attorney in Chicago or Lombard can give you advice and discuss your legal options. Contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630.800.0112.