You may want the legacy that you leave for your family to be a positive thing. Providing your children, spouse or grandchildren with financial assets, real estate or even personal property with sentimental value can be a powerful legacy.
Those hoping to leave something meaningful when they die may spend significant amounts of time and mental energy on the process of planning their estate. Unfortunately, those efforts can go to waste if family members challenge their wishes in court.
Probate challenges can cost thousands of dollars and diminish what you leave for the people you love. The legal battle in a probate dispute could also potentially tear your family apart, estranging your children from each other or from their stepparent. How can those planning estates reduce the likelihood of conflicts arising after they die?
Including no-contest clauses in wills or trusts
When you create your testamentary documents, you can potentially integrate a no-contest clause to deter challenges later. A no-contest clause creates a penalty, often disinheritance, if someone contests their will or challenges a trust.
In Louisiana, the courts will hear challenges to an estate and will then determine whether to enforce a no-contest clause. The circumstances surrounding the creation of the documents and the contest itself will influence whether the courts decide to uphold the no-contest clause.
Being honest with their family about their intentions
Nothing sets a family up for a protracted probate dispute like unrealistic inheritance expectations. Whether your family members think you have more property than you do or they feel entitled to certain property that you don’t intend to bequeath them, their disappointment may lead to them dragging the entire family into probate court and diminishing everyone’s inheritance.
Although it can be uncomfortable and maybe even strain the relationships with certain family members, you can reduce the risk of a challenge against your last wishes and a family feud after your death by talking openly with everyone in your family about estate plans.
Thinking about not just your wishes but also the practicalities of estate administration can help you create a more effective estate plan for your protection and the benefit of loved ones.