Creating an estate plan can take some effort. You have to carefully consider who you would like to receive what. There can be an emotional aspect to estate planning. There is some legal strategizing involved. The last thing you want is for someone to dispute your estate planning documents when you are no longer here to defend yourself and your plans. Disputes are common when a relative is left out of the estate plan and becomes upset. They may also occur simply because your survivors are not getting along with each other. Document disputes are not always raised in good faith. There are steps you and your lawyer can take now to reduce the likelihood of a dispute later.
Ways to Stop a Future Dispute Before it Happens
If you have any suspicion that someone may have an interest in disputing your documents later, inform your attorney. They may recommend strategies like:
Private planning – Your lawyer may ask that you come to all appointments with them alone rather than with a relative or other intended beneficiary. Meeting with your lawyer to do your estate planning in private may help remove any appearance of undue influence by one beneficiary. In fact, it may be preferable to not tell your loved ones that you are engaged in estate planning until the process is complete.
Proving capacity – A common reason that people cite for disputing a document is that the testator may not have had the mental capacity to execute legal documents at the time that they signed their will or trust. Your lawyer may suggest that you be evaluated by a geriatric psychologist or another doctor who can write a letter certifying that you have the requisite capacity to make an estate plan.
Using a trust – Once a will has been submitted to a probate court, it is a public record. Anyone can walk in off the street and look at your will. This makes it much easier for disgruntled and disinherited individuals to bring a challenge. Trusts are not public records, and no one other than your trustee or beneficiaries will have access to it.
The more proof you have that you were of sound mind and not being coerced, the more likely it is that your estate plan will stand up to any potential challenges.
Call a DuPage County Disputed Documents Attorney
As probate and estate planning lawyers, A. Traub & Associates has quite a bit of experience with disputed documents. Our Arlington Heights disputed documents lawyers are familiar with the types of challenges people may bring, so we can help you prevent them in your own plans. Contact us at 630-426-0196 for a free consultation.