A Will Contest is a court action brought by the next of kin, or beneficiary in a previous Will, who is seeking to have a Will rejected by a Court. Will contests generally arise when the individual was left out of the Will or received less from the Will than he anticipated.
A Will Contest can be both emotionally and financially taxing to an estate and the representative, family members and heirs involved. A testator, the person creating a will, should consider what he can do to avoid such a challenge.
The question then is, what can be done to minimize the chances of a will contest. The following are a few suggestions.
- Have a Will Made When You are in Good Health. Wills are more likely to be challenged when they are made when the testator is not in good health because a person in poor health may not have their complete faculties due to illness or medication. Hence, a good preventative measure is to ensure that you have a Will made when you are in good health and that you update it as life circumstances require.
- Put a No Contest Provision in your Will. If you are fearful of a will contest, a no contest provision can be drafted into your Will. A standard no contest provision will state that if one of your heirs challenges the will, he will lose his inheritance. Obviously, such a provision will only discourage challenges from those already receiving an inheritance.
- Discuss Your Wishes with your Family. One of the most common reasons for a Will challenge is surprise. If a relative believes that he is to receive an inheritance, either because it was explicitly stated or implied, he is far more likely to challenge when he discovers that he has been excluded. This situation can be avoided by being candid with friends and family about your intentions.
- Know Where Your Original Will is. The court favors original documents. A copy of a will submitted to the court in lieu of an original is more likely to be challenged.
For more information on Wills and Trusts, and Estate planning, see a Cleveland Estate Planning Lawyer.