When you create a will, one of your intentions is likely to prevent your loved ones from experiencing conflicts or disputes regarding inheritance. However, a successful challenge to your will can lead to precisely that outcome.
Will contests can get ugly, causing fractures within families and damaging close relationships. Moreover, if your will is revoked, your carefully crafted estate plans will be nullified. The court will instead distribute your assets according to the state’s intestate succession laws. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to mitigate the likelihood of a will contest or safeguard your will in the event one arises.
Ensure that your will is properly executed
A legally enforceable and valid will must meet certain requirements. In most cases, it must be signed and witnessed, and the testator (the owner of the will) must be of sound mind. Fulfilling these and other requirements can help avoid contests on the grounds that the will is legally invalid and better ensure that it passes the legal test.
Regularly update your will
It is essential to regularly update your will to ensure that it remains current and aligned with the changes in your life. Failing to do so can create opportunities for contests. For instance, you may unintentionally leave a beneficiary or some assets out of your will if it’s not up to date. Regularly reviewing and updating your will is crucial to maintain accuracy and minimize the likelihood of disputes.
Communication is key
Discuss your estate plans and decisions openly with your family members and beneficiaries to manage expectations or address concerns. This can reduce the chances of surprises or misunderstandings and help resolve issues before they escalate into a will contest.
Include a no-contest clause
You can also potentially deter a challenge to your will with a no-contest clause. It stipulates that if a beneficiary challenges the will and loses, they may receive nothing or only a minimal share. No-contest clauses are enforceable in Texas unless the contest is brought in good faith or on justifiable grounds.
Protect your estate plans
Seeking legal guidance when planning for the future of your estate is in your best interests. It will help to ensure that your plans align with your wishes and minimize the risk of unforeseen circumstances that can undermine them. This way, you can have peace of mind, knowing that everything is set when the time comes.