Your last will and testament tells your personal representative how to handle your estate and lets your family members know what to expect as beneficiaries. You likely invested significant time and consideration into the creation of your will.
Unfortunately, all it takes is one entitled family member to potentially undermine all of that work on your part. Someone could challenge your wishes and get the courts to throw out your will. How can you prevent a contest against your estate plan?
Make sure you follow Washington law
One of the easiest ways for people to challenge an estate plan is to prove that it violates state probate laws. For example, if you try to completely disinherit your spouse, the courts might toss out your documents instead of selectively upholding part of them. It’s crucial to make sure that your estate plan follows all Washington probate laws if you hope to minimize the chances of a challenge.
Add a clause penalizing unnecessary challenges
Some people will bring challenges against a loved one’s estate plan because, if successful, that challenge could be profitable for them. Removing the financial incentive could be a smart move. Including a no-contest clause could mean that someone who unnecessarily challenges your wishes will lose their entire inheritance.
Be honest with loved ones about your intentions
It can be hard to tell someone that you don’t want to leave an inheritance for them or that part of your estate will go to charity instead of to your family. However, an unreasonable sense of entitlement can play a major role in probate disputes.
You can minimize the risk of such issues in your own estate by openly telling your family members about your wishes. If nothing comes as a surprise during the reading of your will, people will be less likely to lash out in frustration or disappointment.
Careful thinking about your estate plan could help ensure it fulfills its intended purpose after you die.