The purpose of a will is to prevent disagreements about one’s property after death.
However, things do not always go as planned. If someone disputes the will, it can lead to litigation.
What are some common causes of estate litigation?
A will is a legally binding document, but people can contest it for various reasons.
- The deceased left an heir out of the will – When the testator omits a family member, it is possibly a mistake. If a child or grandchild was born after the writing of the will, a would-be beneficiary could file a claim asking that all heirs receive equal estate distribution. However, it might be difficult to win that argument if the will explicitly states that certain descendants are purposely left out.
- Someone influenced the testator when writing their will – If someone convinced the writer of the will to make dramatic changes, cut out heirs or leave money to an outside cause, family members might bring the case to court.
- The will is not up to date – Occasionally, a testator does not update their will as life progresses. When a will leaves all belongings to an ex-spouse or businesses to old partners, beneficiaries might wonder if there is a newer will they are unaware of and try to prove the deceased’s updated intentions.
Can a testator prevent estate litigation?
Arguments may be unavoidable in some situations. If a testator believes their heirs might dispute their will, a no-contest clause should help. This clause may deter beneficiaries from disputing the will and states that beneficiaries who do so may lose all their inheritance if they lose their case.
Though wills are a final testament of a person’s wishes, heirs may contest it for numerous reasons.