You create an estate plan so that your preferences determine what happens to your property after you die rather than state law. Whether you want your business to pass to your oldest child or your executor to sell your house and split its value among loved ones, you expect other people to honor and uphold your last wishes.
The sad truth is that many estates lead to significant family conflict, especially if they contain valuable assets or have multiple beneficiaries. Your loved ones might feel disappointed about your last wishes or have a sense of entitlement about certain property. They could challenge your will or estate in the hope of receiving more of an inheritance, reducing the value of assets for everyone.
Thankfully, you can reduce the likelihood of such challenges to your last wishes by using one of the two solutions below.
Add a no-contest clause to your will
If you use a will as the primary legal means of passing your property to the next generation, you can add a special clause to the document that will reduce the risk of other people challenging your wishes.
A no-contest clause can disinherit someone who brings a frivolous challenge against your last wishes. Such clauses act both as a deterrent against unnecessary challenges and a penalty if someone brings the challenge anyway.
Add a trust to your estate plan
If you believe that certain assets will likely be the subject of dispute during estate administration, you can potentially use those assets to fund a trust. The trustee then controls what happens to those assets until there is nothing left for them to distribute. Trusts are often harder for people to challenge than a will. They can also help you keep some property out of the probate process entirely.
Of course, talking with family members about your intentions regarding their inheritance can also be a good decision. Those who don’t feel shocked about your estate plan are less likely to become disappointed and angry about what they ultimately receive when you die. A forward-thinking approach to estate planning can minimize the conflicts that arise when your executor or trustee carries out your last wishes.