Your will is a part of your estate plan, which allows you to expressly state how you want your assets to be divided when you pass away. Ideally, your wishes will be apparent to everyone involved and honored by your loved ones and survivors. Unfortunately, there can be problems which can lead to your will being contested. Fortunately, there are steps you can take, which may help prevent challenges to your will.
One reason an individual may give for contesting a will is that he or she does not believe it was executed properly. If the probate court believes your will was not made correctly, it could be held to be invalid, leaving your estate to pass according to the law rather than your preferences. California has specific requirements as to how a will must be executed, and it is important to make sure that you follow them.
In California, you can include a no-contest clause in your will, which basically says any heir who tries to challenge your will can be disinherited. However, California law limits the circumstances where these clauses will be given effect to the point that they will only be enforced under particular conditions which can be difficult to establish. Often these clauses will be unenforceable when the court believes the challenging party had a good faith reason to say something was wrong with the will.
Discuss Your Choices if Possible
One way of keeping your heirs and other survivors from contesting your will is to discuss your intentions and decision beforehand. Sometimes, hearing directly from you can help settle disagreements about inheritances before they start. If possible, have this conversation near the time you sign your will or updated will.
Prepare for Problems
You may already know that no matter how carefully you plan, there will be some individuals who are going to challenge your will. If you expect certain dissatisfied survivors to raise arguments, you can take action now to gather evidence which may discourage them from making a formal challenge. For instance, if you believe your nephew is going to claim you lacked capacity when you created your will, you could submit to medical and mental health examinations near the time of execution. If you anticipate that someone may claim you made your will under the undue influence of another person, you could make sure the suspected individual is not present when you plan or complete the document.
Having a valid will is critical to making sure your final wishes are honored. By taking steps to prevent a will challenge, you can help spare your loved ones from having to go through the stress and expense of litigation over your estate.
One of the best ways to protect your loved ones and estate is by seeking the advice of an experienced estate planning attorney. At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we have experience with California wills and can help you anticipate issues and plan for your estate. Schedule a free consultation today to start planning your solution. /