Throughout your life, you have been a peacemaker, seeking to avoid conflicts and making sure that everyone got along. But when it comes to the reading of your will, you may be fooling yourself into thinking that matters will go smoothly.
A surprise may or may not be in store for you upon learning just how some families fight or are torn apart over the contents of a will. Legal tussles surface in a variety of scenarios. They can happen when someone gets left out of the will, another person feels “shortchanged” or a beneficiary did not get that “promised” summer cabin. To safeguard any of these scenarios from happening, there are some ways you can prevent the contesting of your will.
No contest clause, create a trust
Here are some strategies that may help you avoid beneficiaries fighting over the contents of your will:
- Include a no-contest clause: Sometimes called a forfeiture or terrorem clause, this information declares that if any beneficiary contests the will, he or she will forfeit any asset that they would have received. Thus, speaking up to argue about the will automatically strike that person from the document. However, there are some situations in which a court overrules a no-contest clause.
- Be tactful when talking about your estate plan with others: Yes, it is important to share your plans, but you do not have to share its details with everyone. Some discretion is necessary. And avoid boasting about what is inside your will. Letting others know that certain beneficiaries are left out of the will is a sure greenlight for the omitted person to contest its contents.
- Choose the trust route instead: Assets within a trust are not subject to probate. In addition, another advantage is that the details of a trust remain private. A will, however, is a matter of public record. Opting for a revocable or living trust is a solid option, too.
- Know where to find your will and let your co-executors know: A good place to store it is in a safety deposit box or home safe. You do not want some beneficiaries claiming that you did not have a will. And make sure to periodically review your will. As matters in your life change, so should your will. It is a good idea to consult with an estate planning attorney every three to five years.
In the best of circumstances, there should be no conflict. But you cannot predict these things. By making critical decisions and plans part of your will, you can avoid difficult situations and bickering among beneficiaries.