Creating a will or estate plan gives you control over the legacy you leave behind when you die. You may have specific wishes regarding who gets which assets from your estate. Sadly, no matter how carefully you plan, your wishes could always wind up subverted by a family member or heir who does not agree with the terms that you put in your will.
Louisiana law allows people to bring challenges against an estate if there are potential issues with it, such as lack of testamentary capacity at the time of the will’s creation, undue influence of a third party or concerns about fraud. People can also bring challenges if a will is outdated or is full of mistakes.
Sadly, individuals will sometimes intentionally claim fraud or similar concerns when they know that the will reflects your wishes. There are a few tactics you can utilize to reduce the risk of someone contesting your wishes to help keep your estate out of probate court.
Distribute some of your assets while you are still alive
As you get older, you may find that you have less need or use for certain assets. Choosing to give assets to your loved ones as gifts while you are still alive offers a variety of benefits that you don’t want to overlook.
First of all, you oversee the transaction yourself, ensuring there is no one who can undermine your wishes. Secondly, you can give gifts in smaller increments that allow your loved ones to avoid paying taxes on them.
Finally, giving away certain assets now can diminish the overall value of your estate, which can help you avoid estate taxes. Of course, there is also the benefit of getting to see your loved ones use and enjoy the assets you want them to have.
Create a trust as part of your estate plan
Creating and funding a trust can make it easier for you to retain control over your assets even after you die. The legal structure of a trust gives you more influence over how people use their inheritance or how much they can access at one time. Trusts generally require more effort than a simple last will, which can also make them more difficult for someone to challenge in probate court.
Consider adding a clause that prohibits challenges
Most people who decide to challenge a loved one’s estate plan or last will do so because they don’t like the terms and hope to secure a larger portion of the estate. Adding a no-contest clause to your will can remove the financial incentive to bring a challenge by potentially penalizing anyone who contests your will in court.
Additionally, you may want to consider adopting a personal policy of total transparency. If everyone in your family knows what to expect, they will be less likely to challenge the will out of disappointment or surprise. Using a combination of these tactics can reduce the risk of someone challenging your will after you die.