5 Common Causes of Will and Trust Contests

One of the biggest benefits to having a good will or trust in place is to help streamline the process of getting your assets to your loved ones after you are gone. Sadly, many wills and trusts are contested by family members or others because the documents are not entirely clear or have some other type of issue. Take a moment to look through each of the five common causes of will and trust contests so you can be sure to avoid them.

Undue Influence (Actual or Perceived)

Most people will create or update their estate planning documents as they get older and closer to the end of their life. During these times it can also be common to have someone providing regular care and advice to the individual. If these updates to your estate plans aren’t handled properly, this can give the appearance of undue influence, which occurs when someone uses a position of authority or other influence to cause someone to change their estate plan in a way that is not in their best interest or made of their own free will. To avoid actual or perceived undue influence, make sure that any changes are witnessed by multiple people who are not family members, and that everyone who is in the will or trust is well aware of the changes ahead of time.

Vague Wording

Whenever preparing any type of legal document, including a will or trust, it is absolutely essential to use very precise wording. While many people criticize this as ‘legalese’ it is in place for a reason. If anything within these documents is at all vague or ambiguous, it leaves the door open for someone to contest the entire document. To avoid this problem make sure you have an experienced estate planning attorney like those at Legacy Planning Law Group drafting the documents.

Self-Help Estate Planning

There are several online services that allow people to create wills and other estate planning documents on their own right from home with the use of cookie-cutter templates. Documents created using these types of services are much more susceptible to being contested than a will that is made by an attorney. Often they have critical terms or wishes missing. Even if someone has had a document created by one of these services already, it should be reviewed or updated by an estate planning attorney to make sure everything is in order.

Forged Documents

If a loved one creates or updates any estate planning document without permission, it can be considered to be forged. Even if they weren’t intentionally forging the document, it leaves it open to being contested down the road. To avoid even the risk of having a document being accused of being forged, make sure that all changes are made with an attorney and if necessary, witnessed by a notary.

Lack of Capacity

One of the more common justifications for contesting a will or trust is known as lack of capacity. This occurs when someone believes that the testator does not have the mental competency to make or update the document. If someone has Alzheimer’s disease, for example, they may not be able to make these types of decisions on their own behalf. Involving loved ones in the decisions, and ensuring there are sufficient witnesses to confirm the mental competency is a simple way to avoid this type of problem.

While wills and trusts don’t have to be overly complex—depending on your circumstances—you do want to make sure everything is done properly to avoid costly and potentially painful contests to your estate after you are gone. The best way to avoid such potential problems is to work with a skilled estate planning attorney who has the necessary experience in this area to ensure your wishes are carried out precisely as you intended, such as those at Legacy Planning Law Group. Give us a call today to get started.

Written by Legacy Planning Law Group

Legacy Planning Law Group is dedicated to working with individuals and families to help protect the assets they have built throughout their life, and make everything simpler for families who have lost a loved one. We help thoughtful people achieve the peace of mind that comes with planning their personal legacy and passing on family harmony.