How Good Estate Planning Can Deter Challenges To Your Will Or Estate
We often discuss the many benefits of good estate planning. One benefit that is often overlooked, is how good estate planning can avoid probate, and thus, any challenges to your estate plan that could potentially be filed in the probate court.
Challenges to Estates
A challenge to an estate once it is probated, generally alleges that the will, or amendments to the will, or any other estate documents, are not valid, because they were procured by fraud or deception.
For example, someone will say that an advisor, friend, caretaker, or other confidante, took advantage of the now-deceased, and pressured him or her or coerced him or her to alter estate documents to make that confidante a beneficiary to the will.
Another type of challenge is to say that when the will was created or altered, the now-deceased was not of sound mind; maybe he or she was suffering from dementia or some other ailment that kept him or her from understanding what he was doing.
These kinds of challenges can take years, and cost thousands. But good estate planning can avoid this from happening.
That’s because good estate planning happens now. You aren’t waiting for a probate court to do it later, to effectuate your will.
In other words, once you put property in a trust, it’s in the trust as soon as the trust is created. When you transfer property into a life estate, it is created at the moment you file the life estate. Whatever you are doing to your property, you are doing it now. There are no “transfers” of property that need be done by the probate court later. There are no assets that are hanging “out there” for a probate court to determine who gets them. The probate court doesn’t need to read or interpret a will, a will which can be challenged by friends or family who feel they may have been slighted.
Your Attorney Will Protect You
And, even if something in your estate does end up needing to be probated, your estate attorney can make sure you take the steps to minimize the risk of any challenges to your estate documents. Your estate attorney understands what undue influence or coercion is, and what the factors are, and can take steps to make sure that they don’t exist.
Your attorney can have you draw up documents, or document your mental state, or provide anything else, with an eye to the future, knowing the kinds of things that will defeat any challenges to your will or estate that could come later on.
Sooner is Better
You also are doing your estate planning earlier—when you are likely to be more alert, healthier, more able, and thus, less likely to draw a challenge to your mental capacity, which could be an issue had you drawn up estate documents later on.
Call the Torrance will and estate attorneys at Samuel Ford Law today to avoid problems later on in probate, or with your estate plan.