The Top 3 Ways to Avoid Estate Litigation
They say the only certainties in life are death and taxes. When a person dies, they often leave behind assets and liabilities (sometimes unpaid taxes) in the form of an estate. If a creditor claims they are owed money, or if one of the beneficiaries of the estate has an issue with the will, a claim may be filed against the estate. Any such claim or contest to the will can be considered estate litigation.
In order to avoid estate litigation, people need to be thorough and thoughtful when preparing their will. Here are three of the top ways we have found are effective in avoiding estate litigation.
1. Consider your family’s history
You and your family have a lifetime of history, including all the ups and downs that come along with that. You need to consider all the personalities and relationships involved in your will. Resentment can occur between siblings if you distribute assets unequally without a good reason. For example, if you have loans out to certain family members, you may decide to give them less in the will. In this case, document these loans well so that the reason for the inequality is clear and cannot be contested. Careful estate planning will reduce the chance of estate litigation and make life easier for your executor and beneficiaries when you pass.
2. Review your will regularly
Ideally, you should review your will at least once a year. At the bare minimum, you should review your will following a major life event such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child. Certain events can have an impact on your estate. If you get a divorce, or receive a large inheritance, for example, you will need to reconsider your will and estate.
3. Choose the right executor
When choosing your executor, you want to name someone who is even-handed and diligent. It is best to pick one individual to become your executor. Conflict can occur if you name two people to act as executor, especially if they don’t get along. In the case of a high-conflict family, hiring a professional executor might be the best option. Your executor should receive compensation for their time and effort, so make sure their pay is fair and document it in your will.