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When everyone is alive and happy, it is easy to think that nothing will break a family apart. However, even families that get together for the holidays, share laughs, tell stories, and enjoy each other’s company can find themselves embroiled in conflict when their matriarch or patriarch passes away. This is especially true when they left incomplete, confusing, or no estate plan at all.
Failing to plan not only takes all of the control out of your hands, it can also leave hurt feelings and possible confusion over what your true wishes were. While a lack of planning can lead to disastrous consequences, poor planning can be just as harmful. Documents that are not up to date, vague, or improperly prepared can lead family members to have differing opinions as to the true intention of the decedent, leading to litigation in probate court.
In addition to updating your documents to clearly state your intentions, your estate plan should be crafted to discourage litigation that might otherwise seem inviting. To protect beneficiaries from litigious creditors, a knowledgeable estate planning attorney can utilize tools such as a discretionary trust.
If you’re more worried about a family member challenging your estate plan, an attorney can help you determine the right amount of incentive paired with a no-contest provision to incentivize litigation avoidance. This tactic leaves a set amount of money to an heir but then states that if the person challenges your will or trust they will receive nothing. By doing this the family member has something to lose, discouraging them from contesting your wishes in the first place.
Regardless of your family situation, it is incredibly important that you have a well-drafted, up-to-date estate plan in place. Will or trust contests are generally much more expensive than the estate planning that could have prevented them, and can quickly drain an estate of value. Littleton Legal can assist you in creating an estate plan that will ensure that your wishes are carried out and that harmony can be maintained within your family after you are gone. Give us a call today at (918) 608-1836 to schedule a complimentary consultation.