When a person in Rochester and throughout New York State prepares for the future and crafts an estate plan, a nightmare scenario is that it will be vulnerable to a will contest. There might be a family member who will consider challenging a will. There are multiple reasons why this could be the case. For example, if the person does not get the assets and property that the he or she believes they are entitled to, a challenge is possible. When the document is created, there are strategies that the testator can take to avoid the will being challenged.
The reality is that successfully challenging a will does not happen particularly often. For it to work, the person must prove that the testator was mentally incompetent or subject to pressure by another person when completing the document. This is not easy. This does not preclude the attempt being made. It is not difficult to challenge a will. Even if it is frivolous, the estate must respond to the challenge.
When a person creates an estate plan, there are ways to protect it. Having a document that is clear and specific is vital. Some people might want to leave a prospective heir out of the document entirely. That must be specified. The testator is not legally obligated to list the reasons why, but he or she can do that. If there is a detailed name as to who is being disinherited, it can be difficult to mount a successful challenge. There should be witnesses who are verifying the competence of the testator. It is also wise that the witnesses are not benefiting from the estate plan.
A no-contest clause can be useful. This will state that the plan is accurate and the desires are what the testator wants with the heirs and others expected to accept it. It can be written that if there is a challenge, the challenger will not get any assets they were left. The most important thing is to have a clear document with all the plans comprehensive and as the testator wants. Having a legal professional who is experienced in helping people with the estate plans, estate litigation and avoiding a will contest is crucial.
Source: forbes.com, “How to Reduce the Possibility of Your Estate Plan Getting Challenged,” Mark Eghrari, Oct. 30, 2017