Minimize Potential Family Conflict Surrounding Your Estate Plan

How can I avoid a challenge to my will after my death?

Your estate plan represents your last wishes to your heirs and loved ones.  The decisions you make concerning who will receive what assets will be done with much thought and care.  At times, you may be forced to make the tough decision of leaving out a certain loved one from your estate plan, or providing more to one heir over another.  Family conflict is one of the main concerns of anyone who sets out to make an estate plan.  The good news is by engaging in some advance planning as you create your estate plan, you can reduce family conflict and minimize the chance that your will is subjected to a legal challenge after your death.

Open Up a Dialogue

One of the prime reasons that family members end up contesting a will is that they find themselves shocked upon the reading of the will after their loved one’s death.  By keeping your family in the dark as to your wishes, a family member who does not receive an inheritance or receives less than expected may be hurt and potentially doubt whether this was your true wish.

Instead of leaving your estate plan shrouded in mystery, you can take the time now to start some frank discussions. Explain what you intend your will to read and why you have chosen to take these actions.  Allow your loved ones to speak their minds, but never feel pressured to change your decision due to the opinions of others.

Be Sure Your Wishes Are Clear

Another main cause of will disputes is ambiguity within the estate plan. If your will reads one thing, but your trust another, your estate plan might be challenged.  Further, if you have undergone a major life change and failed to update your estate plan, your loved ones may feel forced to initiate a challenge as there may be doubts as to whether your current estate plan is accurate.

You can avoid conflict by doing your part to ensure your estate plan is thorough and consistent.  Work with your estate planning attorney to make sure all assets are accounted for and major decisions like guardianship for your minor children are set out in stone. Taking these steps now will give you peace of mind that your family is protected and your last wishes will be honored after your death.

Brian Chew, the managing partner of OC Wills & Trust Attorneys, has extensive experience in the areas of estate planning, asset protection planning, business succession planning, long-term care planning, and veterans’ benefits. By devoting his practice to estate planning matters, he has founded a firm that strives to provide exceptional service to their clients by working closely with individuals and their families to create comprehensive and customized estate plans. For the past twenty five years, Brian has served thousands of clients in the matters of estate planning, wills and trusts. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Brian Chew here.