How do I avoid Litigation in regard to my Estate after I die?
Within a volatile family, sometimes litigation cannot be avoided. However, there are some things that can be done to minimize the possibility of estate litigation after you die.
1) Have your Will done up by a lawyer, and do not try to do it yourself.
2) Have any changes to your Will done up by a lawyer, and do not try to change the document yourself.
3) Only have one Will, all previous Wills having been destroyed or revoked by you, and ensure that your Personal Representative knows where that Will is kept.
4) If your testamentary capacity to execute a Will might be called into question to invalidate your Will, take the steps to obtain a capacity assessment or a medical opinion of capacity prior to executing your Will.
5) Name a personal representative/executor/executrix that is trustworthy and respected by the beneficiaries, and who has the financial wherewithal to administer your estate well.
6) Encourage your designated personal representative to hire the appropriate professionals, such as a lawyer and an accountant, so that the estate affairs are properly conducted and administered.
7) Deal even-handedly with those individuals who would expect to benefit from your estate.
8) In your testamentary gifts, provide adequately for any dependents, including minor children, your spouse, your adult interdependent partner, and any dependent adults to whom you have legal responsibility.
9) Consider providing a clause for payment of your personal representative in your Will, to minimize a dispute over fair compensation.
10) Do not promise gifts to loved ones outside of your Will unless your Will also provides the gift or unless you perfect the giving of the gift prior to death;
11) Review your estate plan frequently to ensure it still expresses your wishes given your current situation.
At Quantz Law, we spend ample time with our estate clients to ensure that we understand their family background, their property, and the potential claims on their estate. Although the testator has the authority to decide who to name as beneficiaries of their estate, we want the testator to consider the risk of future litigation before making final decisions about his or her Will.
Further, at Quantz Law, we typically advise a client to incorporate an alternate dispute resolution clause in the Will, thereby reducing litigation since mediation is required by the Will as a first step in conflict resolution.