Your last will and testament allows you to ensure the carrying out of your final wishes. It is your vehicle for putting in place measures for your loved ones’ care.
However, it is not uncommon for disputes to arise regarding estates of both small and large value. By implementing certain strategies, you can help prevent or reduce the likelihood of a successful will contestation.
Be clear and specific
Avoid vague language or ambiguous terms anyone might misinterpret. Clearly outline your beneficiaries and the distribution of your assets. Leaving a letter or video explaining your decisions will enhance clarity and help derail any claims against your mental competency while you were writing the will. It also helps to openly discuss your intentions with your loved ones so they understand them. Communication is key to avoiding conflict later.
Use witnesses and a notary
Having witnesses and a notary present during the signing of your will can add credibility and authenticity to the document. New Jersey considers a will “self-proving” if two witnesses present at the signing attest the testator signed it.
Include special terms
A no-contest clause stipulates that anyone who contests the will and loses will forfeit their inheritance. Including one discourages individuals who gain from the will from contesting to gain more. You can also leave a small token amount to anyone you suspect may contest your will to prevent them from claiming you simply forgot to include them.
Update your will regularly
Review and update your will to reflect any major life events such as births, deaths, marriages or divorces. Outdated wills can be vulnerable to challenges based on changed circumstances.
According to caring.com one in every four Americans is now more aware of the necessity of estate planning in the wake of rising inflation. Just as important as having a solid estate plan is protecting it from those who want to break it for their own benefit. Through careful planning and clear communication you can help ensure that people respect your final wishes and your legacy remains intact.