St. Patrick’s Day is coming up. Every March 17th, the holiday takes place around the world. Green beer, funky accessories, and a lot of partying and parades are the most common ways that people tip their hat to St. Patrick. Leprechauns might play tricks, but, when it comes to keeping family drama out of your estate plan, you’ll need no such thing.
It’s no secret that families fight, and will contests aren’t uncommon. However, with these tips and non-tricks, you’ll be able to avoid that unpleasantness. There’s no need to pull a leprechaun-esque trick on your family to keep them calm. All you need is efficiency, a good lawyer, and a solid plan.
What is a Will Contest?
Rules vary from state to state. In Florida, probate begins when the will is submitted to the local county court. The court used is the one where the individual resided at the time of death. After the will has been filed, creditors and beneficiaries must be notified. After they have been given notice, they have ninety dates to challenge the will.
There are a few grounds on which someone can contest a will: these include influence, coercion, fraud, and other legal grounds. To contest, someone files a petition in the court where the probate of the will is taking place. The petition requests that the court invalidate or revoke the will because of the stated legal grounds.
Who Usually Brings Will Contests?
Generally, it is a wronged family member who usually contests wills. Don’t get us wrong—fraud, coercion, and other valid legal grounds do exist, and, if there has been wrongdoing, it is important that it is stopped and sorted out. But, in situations where a will challenge is not quite so sincere, sometimes it is a family member who feels shorted or left out who mounts this petition.
Will Your Family Have This Drama?
You know your family better than we do. Maybe you have a son or daughter who feels entitled to something that they don’t deserve. Perhaps a relative thinks they should be your POA for finances, even though they have a reputation for overspending. Every family has its issues, and you can talk to your family about your estate plan to determine who could potentially challenge the will.
Tips for Avoiding Family Strife When Estate Planning
Though no steps are foolproof, there are ways to avoid family strife when you are estate-planning. These steps provide you with a good opportunity to keep the drama to a minimum, and it is the third of the three that is most important.
Create an Overview to Share
Keeping everyone in the dark certainly won’t help matters. You should create an overview document of your estate plan to offer your loved ones clarity. This document, which can include information on your assets and the different tools in your estate plan toolbox, will help your proposed executor understand your estate. The transparency can also help family members who may feel as though the inheritance process is unfair or confusing. Letting people know what you’re doing and your reasoning ensures there are no secrets.
Keeping the communication lines open will also be a great assist. Meet with family members who have a role in your estate plan and ensure that they know what is contained and how they will be impacted. It is also important to converse with people who you have left out (or, if you cannot do that for some reason, someone close to them). These conversations may be difficult to have, if not a bit awkward, but they will help you keep drama at bay.
Hire A Lawyer
One thing about estate planning attorneys is that this is not their first rodeo. They know that estate planning can be an emotional and complicated process, and they have likely seen this drama play out time and again. Hiring a lawyer will not only insure that the documents are legally-sound, but the attorney can also help you avoid common pitfalls, act as a sounding board, and even have some of those hard conversations with your family.
This article might have intimidated you, as it discusses a topic that a lot of us are uncomfortable with: family drama. However, it’s best to brave this issue head-on and not allow it to affect your estate plan. Call WFP today and schedule an appointment.