Avoiding Inheritance Disputes
The goal of an estate plan is to ensure that the assets you have built up over a lifetime are distributed in accordance with your wishes. However, if you have beneficiaries or relatives who object to your estate plan, they can contest it. This can derail your wishes, cost your estate hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, and delay the disbursement of your estate to your intended beneficiaries. The following are six tips that can minimize the risk of Will and Trust contests and inheritance disputes:
- Treat all of your children equally when dividing your assets. If you have strong reasons for not dividing your estate equally, make sure that your attorney is aware of them so they can develop the best plan and structure for your estate to minimize the opportunity for the disinherited child (or children) to contest the estate plan.
- Select the Personal Representative and Trustee with care. Are they financially responsible? Are they dependable? Do they have the intellect to do the job? Are they emotionally mature enough to handle this? It’s also important to list an alternate in your estate planning documents in case your original Personal Representative and Trustee is unable, unwilling to perform the task, or removed in a legal proceeding.
- Discuss any unexpected contents of your estate plan with your beneficiaries while you are alive. For example, if you plan to bequeath a large donation to a charity, or leave money to a friend or distant relative, let your spouse and heirs know this so they can process the information, ask questions, and understand your motivation so they do not contest this after you are gone.
- Specifically list the recipients that you intend to leave items of monetary or sentimental value. For example, your engagement or wedding rings, specific pieces of artwork, cars, serving pieces, etc. This can help prevent multiple heirs from fighting over them.
- Ensure all the legal technicalities necessary for a valid Will and Trust are completed. For example, this includes signing the Will in front of two witnesses and a separate notary and then having the witnesses sign in each other’s presence that they witnessed you sign it.
- Hire an estate planning attorney to draft your estate planning documents. Many free or low-cost “fill in the blank” style Wills are available online, however, these Wills are much easier to contest than one drafted by a professional and specifically designed to meet the needs of your personal situation.
You have spent your lifetime working hard to build your estate. You deserve to have it distributed according to your wishes. Contact the law office of Huth, Pratt, and Milhauser, South Florida’s experts in trusts, estates and guardianships for a free consultation on developing your estate plan.
Huth, Pratt and Milhauser
Huth, Pratt and Milhauser is a boutique law firm that offers a wide range of legal services in the specialty areas of wills, trusts, estates, probate, guardianship, and related matters. The range of legal services that Huth, Pratt & Milhauser provides in these specialty areas includes planning, administration and litigation. The experience and skills of our attorneys and staff, coupled with our knowledge of applicable law, enable us to provide outstanding representation to our clients.
Although we are located in South Florida, we proudly serve clients throughout the country and around the world from our Boca Raton offices. We strive to provide superior and focused counsel in a timely manner and at a competitive price.
Huth, Pratt and Milhauser
2500 North Military Trail, Suite 460
Boca Raton, Florida 33431