If you answer this question in the affirmative, you should take certain steps to prevent an estate challenge, and we share them in this post.
Do not die without a will or trust.
Intestacy is the condition that comes about when someone passes away without any estate planning documents at all. Under these circumstances, a personal representative would be appointed by the probate court, and the court would provide supervision during the administration process.
When there are no written instructions with regard to the way the assets should be distributed, the court has nothing to go on. Anyone can come forward during probate to make a claim to an inheritance, and the court would hear their argument.
Ultimately, the assets will be passed along under the intestate succession laws of the state of Ohio. Under these a circumstances, there is a good chance that the assets will be distributed in a manner that is not consistent with your wishes.
This is especially true if you intend to disinherit someone that would traditionally be in line for an inheritance.
Add a no-contest clause.
When you have a will or a living trust, you can include a no-contest clause. This would trigger the complete disinheritance of anyone that is receiving a bequest if they challenge the terms.
They could still make the move, but if there is something to lose, a lot of people would not want to take the risk. You should keep this in mind when you are deciding how much you want to leave to someone that is going to get less than they are expecting.
Communicate in the most tactful way possible.
If your family members come to terms with your inheritance planning decisions while you are still living, they will gradually process the information. By the time you pass away, they may come to terms with your choices, and a challenge would be less likely.
On the other hand, if you are insensitive and boisterous when you let people know about your plans, you will be inviting an angry, negative response.
Use a trust instead of a will.
When a will is used as an asset transfer vehicle, it is admitted to the legal process of probate. The court is charged with the responsibility of determining the validity of the document, so anyone that wants to present a challenge has an open opportunity to do so.
If you have a living trust, the trustee would distribute the assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes outside of probate. Someone could file a lawsuit to challenge the terms of a living trust, but it is more complicated and expensive.
Plus, if you want to include asset protection and spending safeguards, you can do this if you have a living trust. You can alternately create a trust that has incentives that must be met before the beneficiary will receive distributions.
Review your plan with your attorney on an ongoing basis.
A challenge will be based on the contention that the document that has been presented does not reflect the true wishes of the decedent. If you regularly review your estate plan with your attorney to keep it current at all times, it would be difficult to make that case.
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