When a last will is used to transfer assets, the process of probate will be a major factor. In a will, you would name an executor, and this individual would act as the estate administrator. They would be required to admit the will to probate, and the court would provide supervision.
The probate court is responsible for determining the validity of the will that is submitted. Because of this, anyone that wants to come forward to contest the validity of the will could do so during probate.
Acceptable grounds include fraud, coercion, improper execution, and the incapacity of the grantor.
This opening is a necessary safeguard, because even though they are quite rare, there are some legitimate circumstances that will call for a will challenge that may be successful. However, on the other side of the coin, frivolous challenges can be presented at times.
All the information must be evaluated by the court, so this can prolong an already lengthy process. Probate will take about eight months to a year even if there are no challenges or any other complications.
If you do decide to use a will, and you think that there could be someone that will be not happy with your decisions, you should consider reaching out to them in advance. The conversation may not be very comfortable, but when there are no surprises and your actual intentions are known, a challenge would be less likely.
Revocable Living Trusts
An alternative to a last will that provides a number of advantages is the revocable living trust. We will look at all of the many benefits in another blog post, but we will stay focused on the matter of estate challenges here.
You would be the trustee and the beneficiary of your living trust while you are alive and well, and this is one of the benefits, because you would lose no control. In the trust declaration, you name a successor trustee and successor beneficiaries to assume the roles after you die.
The successor trustee would be able to distribute the assets in accordance with your wishes outside of probate. For this reason, the ready-made window of opportunity for estate challenges would not exist.
It would be possible for someone to file a lawsuit to contest the validity of a living trust. This is more complicated and expensive, so this is one positive if you want to prevent challenges.
You can take it to another level through the inclusion of a no-contest clause. This would stipulate the complete disinheritance of any beneficiary that files a lawsuit to challenge the terms of the trust. They may risk it, but this would be a powerful disincentive.
Attend a Free Seminar
We have covered a single topic in this brief blog post, and you are welcome to access any of the other written content that we have on our website to learn more. This being stated, you can absorb a great deal of important information in one sitting if you attend one of our upcoming seminars.
There is no charge at all to attend these sessions, so you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Plus, if you would rather sit in remotely, we are offering live stream and dial in options.
To see the schedule, visit our seminar page. After you determine which session you would like to attend, click on the link that is associated with that date and follow the simple instructions to register.
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If you have already learned enough to know that it is time to sit down and have a meaningful discussion with an estate planning attorney, we are here to help. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 860-548-1000.