How to Protect Your Estate From Lawsuits

9:18 pm Estate Planning, Wills

Safe1 150x137 How to Protect Your Estate From LawsuitsA recent Forbes.com post provided some valuable insight into how you can “lawsuit-proof” your estate through some common-sense measures:

Equal treatment.  Treat those with the same degree of relationship to you equally (i.e., four children get one-fourth of the estate, equally).  People fight over inequities.

Be specific with bequests.  Decide exactly who will get what; leaving the decisions to heirs provides fodder for infighting.

Make provisions for loans.  If you’ve made a loan to a child, make provisions for whether the debt will be forgiven or must be taken out of their share upon your death.

Don’t pass a business on through your will.  If you have just one child who will inherit the family business and you have other children who may not like that decision, consider a contract to sell the business to that child while you are still alive.

Be sure you own what you give.  If you have joint ownership in a property, you cannot leave it to an heir – it will go to the joint owner.

Get your own estate planning attorney.  If you’re in a second (or more) marriage and have children from different marriages, get your own estate planning attorney.   Children of the first marriage may raise issues if you and your second spouse have the same lawyer.

If you anticipate problems, get a corporate executor.  A corporate executor such as a bank may be more expensive, but could help stave off family fights if those are anticipated over your estate.

Establish your sound mental state.  One of the most common legal challenges to a will is that the testator was not of sound mind.  Consider being evaluated by a doctor and/or a geriatric psychiatrist prior to signing your estate planning documents.

Add a no-contest clause.  Adding a no-contest clause to you will means that any beneficiary who contests the validity or any provision of the will forfeits his or her interest.   This is often a highly effective way to stop a fight before it starts.

Detail any disinheritance.  If you plan to disinherit someone, make it clear that it is intentional but don’t give a reason that could be challenged.

Let our Costa Mesa law offices help you get started by contacting us today.

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