How to Protect Your Last Will and Testament
When you sit down to prepare your last will and testament, you probably think that your final wishes are just that – final. Unfortunately, the estate planning process is not that simple. After your passing, dissatisfied relatives may look for any loophole in your will to try and take what they consider to be their fair share. Take the following precautions to make sure your last will and testament is protected.
What is a no-contest clause and should I include one in my will?
A no-contest clause is a provision in your last will and testament that basically states that anyone who challenges the terms of your last will and testament will receive nothing. This clause is designed to discourage people from disputing your will.
Each state has its own system for addressing no-contest clauses. And while this clause may offer some protection in almost every other state in the country, it will not protect a last will and testament in the state of Florida. The state of Florida does not recognize no contest clauses and specifically declares them unenforceable.
Consider verbally expressing your wishes
For many people, the ability to express their last wishes privately in a last will and testament is a welcome thought. It is an opportunity to provide instruction without any feedback, commentary, or judgement from family members. After all, they are your last wishes.
However, there are a few reasons to consider sharing the terms of your will with family members. If your last will and testament leaves instructions that are surprising or contrary to your typical behavior – such as excluding a natural heir – this action may raise questions regarding your intentions. Some may suspect that this was an oversight or that you were influenced by another individual.
While announcing your intentions may make you uncomfortable, it does let you explain your actions. The benefit is that it makes it very clear that you made these decisions yourself, and this makes it more difficult for someone to successfully contest your will.
Get a doctor’s note
In order for a last will and testament to be considered valid, the individual must be deemed as capable of making their own decisions. Disgruntled heirs may seek to raise questions regarding your state of mind when you drafted your will, and they can persuade the court to disregard your wishes. So elderly individuals should consider obtaining a doctor’s note that confirms their mental capacity. This note should then be included with the last will and testament.
Make sure your will is current
Life is busy. Major life changes — such as marriage, divorce, children, and grandchildren – can all have a significant effect on an estate plan. Make sure your will is up to date and reflects any changes in family structure or finances.
What is expressed in last will and testament is very important
Estate planning is an important step. It is your way of providing instruction as to how your estate should be distributed. When creating a last will and testament, it is important to follow certain guidelines to ensure that your wishes are carried out. The experienced North Palm Beach estate planning lawyers at Kitroser, Lewis & Mighdoll work with individuals and families to develop estate plans that meet their needs and reflect their wishes. Don’t wait to develop your last will and testament. Contact the North Palm Beach office of Kitroser, Lewis & Mighdoll today at 561-721-0600 or online to schedule a private consultation.