Essentially, your Last Will and Testament is a record of what you wish to be done with your possessions and assets after you pass away, which sounds very straightforward. However, this doesn’t always happen and Wills become parts of highly contested court proceedings, often causing rifts in families, costing huge sums of money to resolve, and tying up your assets for years. Avoiding having your Will contested is vital then, not only to ensuring that your wishes are met, but that peace and goodwill is preserved amongst your beneficiaries. Here’s some advice on how to achieve this, from a leading estate planning attorney in New Jersey.
A No-Contest Clause
This is the simplest way of solving this issue, as it is a legal clause that seriously discourages anyone from taking this kind of action. Instead of making it illegal to contest the Will, as it implies, beneficiaries are instead strongly discouraged from doing so, as they will inherit nothing should they contest the Will through legal channels and lose.
Communicate clearly with beneficiaries
Often, confusion or disappointment over the contents of a Will is a trigger for contestation, because beneficiaries are convinced that you didn’t intend what the Will is being interpreted to mean – and, of course, there is no way to get clarification from the original author. Clear communication about your Will is a good way to prevent this. Call a family meeting with your heirs and discuss what you are intending through your Will, including who gets what and why. This will help clear up any misunderstandings before they happen.
Consult an estate planning attorney
While a Will might sound simple in its intention, the reality is that it is a very complex legal document, simply because it is designed to prevent loopholes and misunderstandings that can lead towards contestations and errors. An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to give you the advice you need to create an estate plan that suits your intentions and provides the most benefit to you and your beneficiaries. For example, a trust may work well for what you are trying to achieve and be a better legal avenue that you may not have previously considered. Online and free templates are often far too basic to ensure that your needs are adequately met, and may contain inaccurate legal language that may see your Will contested in court.
Keep your estate plan safe
Once you have a Will and/or an estate plan, it should be kept in a safe and accessible place. Safe deposit boxes are almost impossible to access without a court order, even if another person is named as a joint owner, so should be avoided. Your own desk is fairly safe, but very accessible and vulnerable to accidental damage and destruction. It’s therefore recommended that you keep it with your attorney, as they will be able to store it safely and retrieve it at the necessary time. This also makes it easier for you to make amendments to your Will if needed.
Comprehensive estate planning advice in New Jersey
If you would like further guidance on protecting your real estate assets by creating an irrevocable living trust, LLC or a Last Will and Testament, Frank R. Campisano can provide you with the necessary expert legal advice and professional insight.
In addition, he can also assist you with all other aspects of your estate plan, from drawing up medical directives and Power of Attorney documents to Medicaid planning. For more information on setting up or changing an estate plan, please contact him at the law firm of Sedita, Campisano & Campisano, LLC in New Jersey or visit our website today.