Florida Estate Planning and Probate Law Blog focused on recent case law and planning ideas.

TIPS TO AVOID A CHALLENGE TO YOUR ESTATE PLAN AT DEATH

Although a challenge to a Last Will and Testament (“Will”) or Revocable Trust (“Trust”) (an inheritance dispute) are a sad reality there is no guarantee that even with proper planning a contest may be avoided. Will and Trust contests are typically the result of a disgruntled family member or friend challenging the validity of the documents. The have a higher probability of occurring in in blended families, when a child is disinherited or when the children are not treated equally. The following are some proactive steps that can be taken: • Create your estate plan early in life and update it regularly. Many inheritance disputes result from estate planning documents being signed shortly before the death of the testator. • Keep copies of your old estate planning documents. Your old estate planning documents may be reinstated or serve as evidence of your intent if a newer document is successfully challenged after your death. It makes it difficult for Nephew John to challenge your estate planning documents when all your prior documents also excluded him as a beneficiary. • Explain a disinheritance or inequity in distributions. Make sure your estate planning documents include specific language as to why an individual who might be expecting an inheritance is not receiving one, or why your estate will not be equally divided between your children (prior gifts to one child). • Establish your competence with regular medical visits and notes. Have disinterested individuals witness the executed of your estate planning documents to diminish the ability of a challenge of undue influence. • Discussing the general contents of your estate plan with your family. If nephew John knows years in advance that he will not be a beneficiary, it may decrease his motivation to challenge your estate plan.