Part of caring for your family is preparing a comprehensive estate plan. In the event that your death is sudden, having something in place may protect them from lengthy court battles and considerable debt. Regardless of the timing of your death, creating a will that holds up during probate takes considerable planning. There are situations that you can prepare for now to shield your heirs from a possible will contest. Familiarize yourself with the steps you can take to prevent your will from being challenged.
Communicate Changes with Heirs
As you get older, your finances will undoubtedly evolve. Along with your growth will come a change in personal relationships, possibly in ways you cannot comprehend at the moment. You and your spouse could divorce, or you can become estranged from a sibling or child. When there is a change in life — financially or in family dynamics — you should update your will accordingly. Whenever you do this, you should talk to the person responsible for administering your will once you die. Communicating changes to those who may be affected could cause discomfort at first, but it might save your will from facing a challenge in the future.
Ensure the Document Is Executed Properly
It may seem unfathomable that a typographical error or missed step can result in legal action. One way someone can challenge a will is by showing that it was not executed correctly. This may be due to an oversight, such as a missed initial. In other situations, one of the witnesses might not be valid. The requirements for witnessing a will typically bar anyone named in the will from signing it in any capacity. As such, a will challenge may be allowed if an unauthorized person signs it.
Provide Medical Evidence of Competency
Some of the most contentious will challenges occur when the unnamed heirs believe the deceased was not competent to make changes. If you have exhibited signs of mental illness or a progressive disease that affects the brain, like dementia, your will may be thrown out for those reasons. Making changes to a will is your right, and you may do so at any time; however, if you do so after receiving a medical diagnosis, the will may face tougher scrutiny. It is a good idea to have your physician write a letter stating that you had full mental capacity at the time you changed your will. The document is kept with the will in the event of a challenge.
Protecting your wishes after your death may mean taking a few extra steps when creating your estate plan. A living will lawyer, like a living will lawyer in Philadelphia, PA, can provide the guidance you need to ensure those you want to inherit can.
Thanks to Klenk Law for their insight into how to make sure people do not challenge your will.