While many people may worry about how taxes will impact their estate plan, given the high exemption limits, a probate attorney in Lee County can explain that the more practical concern is how litigation will impact the estate plan. After a person dies, heirs at law or beneficiaries in the will or trust may come to the conclusion that the testator was unduly influenced and may commence with expensive litigation. A probate attorney in Lee County can explain possible arguments that can be raised in litigation and how to protect against them.
Some of the drawbacks of probate litigation are that the testator’s wishes may be undermined, people in the community can hear about it and the litigation can erode the estate’s funds so little or nothing is left after the battle is over.
While there is no guaranty that someone will not contest the will or trust, there are preventative planning techniques that can be employed to reduce this possibility. For example, if the testator believes that his or her competence may be questioned, a health provider’s assessment at the time the documents are executed that the testator was of sound mind at the time of execution of the estate documents can serve as powerful evidence especially when memorialized in a stand-alone affidavit. Witnesses can also attest to their belief of the testator’s capacity when they observe him or her signing the will.
Another way to help avoid such will or trust contests is to include clear language in the estate planning documents and a disincentive for such claims. For example, if the testator anticipates a will contest by a particular person, he or she may include a clause in the will that states that the beneficiary will lose the interest afforded him or her in the will if he or she brings such litigation. Additionally, the testator should include clear language in the will or other document that explains any possible disparities so that the beneficiaries will understand the reasoning behind these decisions.