Some estate administrators face extraordinary challenges administering the estates they oversee. Battles among heirs can erupt and factions can form among the survivors. A relative who is left out of the estate proceeds can challenge the will and delay the probate process as the case wends its way through the court system.
What can a client do to avoid these distressing circumstances? Is it even possible to sidestep such shenanigans?
To some extent it may be, although some families seem to thrive on higher levels of drama than others. But you know your heirs and can often predict which relative might throw a monkey wrench into an otherwise well-crafted estate plan.
Conflict-free estate administration is possible
However, much depends on the steps clients undertake in their lifetimes. Take the pulse of your heirs and get a feeling of which expectations might conflict with the reality of the final behests.
Sometimes a timely conversation can jog a relative's memory about a former incident of financial largesse on your part, e.g., the down payment you gave your son for his home or the tuition bills you footed for the grandkids.
But it's naive to believe that all dissension and acrimony between your survivors can always be avoided. The law does allow you to attempt to head disgruntled heirs and nonheirs off at the pass, however.
Insert a no-contest clause
Including a no-contest clause in your will can put your heirs on notice that anyone who attempts to challenge the legitimacy of your estate plan automatically surrenders any right to proceeds from your estate.
Of course, there's a caveat. Anyone who was intentionally left out of your will has nothing to lose by mounting a successful challenge -- and everything to gain. Sometimes the best thing that you can hope for is that by making your wishes abundantly clear, justice will eventually be borne out.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Estate Planning: Avoiding (Or At Least Managing) The Family War," Suzana Popovic Montag, accessed June 01, 2018