Sometimes you can’t please everybody. This is also true of your will. Any party claiming a potential interest in an estate can contest your will, preventing acceptance of the will by probate court. With estate planning and wills, the words of singer Rick Nelson, “you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself,” from his 1972 hit ” Garden Party” often ring true.
Aggrieved parties have three potential avenues when contesting the validity of a will. A claim of diminished mental capacity; wills signed under duress, undue influence or fraud; or outright forgery. Despite your honest efforts to clearly and cleanly distribute your estate, any will is potentially contestable.
Mental capacity basically translates into your realization that a will distributes your assets upon death, that you recognize the beneficiaries to the estate, and that you understand that your assets have value; you don’t need to know the resale price of a 1964 Mustang to realize it is a valuable automobile.
Wills signed under duress, undue influence or fraud entail any scenarios whereas a care giver may withhold food or medicine, individuals may limit contact with family or advisors to further their own goals, or cases where others are presenting themselves as something they are truly not.
One of the major responsibilities of your executor is to defend your will against claims. Prior planning with a qualified estate attorney can limit the possibility of a contested will; it cannot always eliminate any claims against the will. Asset allocations during your lifetime can be constructed, possibly lowering your tax obligations and the future liabilities of your estate simultaneously. More importantly, any legal issues will be resolved beforehand.
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