5 Ways Estate Planning Prevents Inheritance Disputes

Are you concerned that your last will and testament will be challenged? If so, you’ll want to hire an estate planning attorney as soon as possible to review your case. Many family inheritance disputes can be avoided by hiring an attorney experienced in estate planning and elder law.

Continue reading to learn the 5 ways estate planning prevents inheritance disputes. For more information, schedule a consultation with our estate planning lawyer.

1.) Receive Mental Health Validation

No one likes to think of their loved ones fighting in court after they pass away. However, it’s important to prepare for the possibility of someone contesting your will, which is why your attorney may recommend you get a mental health validation.

Before writing a will, schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist to verify you are in good mental health and in full control of your faculties. Having a mental health validation signed and sealed with your legal will can reduce the likelihood of someone contesting your will. Our estate planning attorneys always recommend clients write their wills long before their health is compromised.

2.) Hire a Neutral Attorney

Is a beneficiary pressuring you to use their estate attorney? While it’s normally a good idea to get references from family, you’ll want to make an independent hiring decision when it comes to your attorney. The best way to protect assets and property is to hire an attorney that doesn’t have any ties to your family. A reputable estate attorney won’t have conflict of interest.

While it may be tempting to try creating a will by yourself, you’re much better off hiring an estate lawyer. A lawyer will be able to spot errors or inconsistencies that could lead to your will being contested. DIY wills are often contested in court for being too vague.

3.) Avoid Probate with a Living Trust

Probate provides an opportunity for family members to contest your estate plans in court. A living trust allows you to avoid probate because you are placing your assets and property into the trust for distribution while you are still alive. Make sure you pick a trustworthy trustee to manage your trust.

4.) Explain Special Treatment of Beneficiaries

Did you decide to leave significantly more (or less) to a beneficiary? Explain your reasoning in an estate plan to avoid stirring up old resentments and jealousies. If you have your adult children as beneficiaries, they may expect equal treatment and contest your will if one person is singled out for special treatment.

Taking the time to explain special treatment can help ease family disputes over inheritance. For example, you might explain in your estate plan that your son will receive less than his siblings because you gave him an advance on his inheritance to buy a house.

5.) Describe How Personal Effects Will Be Distributed

All valuable possessions should be documented in your estate plan, along with the names of their intended recipients. For example, your estate plan should mention that your antique brooch will be given to your youngest daughter.

Without a legal will and estate plan, it becomes all too easy for family members to take (or steal) what they want from your home with the justification of “they would want me to have it.” The person responsible for distributing property and assets to beneficiaries will make sure your personal effects go to the right people.

Our Norton Shores estate attorney is dedicated to helping you create a last will and testament that will be able to stand up in court. We can help you run through your retirement checklist so you have peace of mind. To schedule a consultation with our elder law attorney, call (231) 799-4994.