An individual’s estate plan determines their legacy and can have a major influence on how other people remember them. The resources that they leave for other people and charitable causes can have a lasting impact on the world, and the instructions that they provide regarding the care of their dependent loved ones can better ensure their comfort and stability during a difficult adjustment after losing their family member.
Creating a will and other estate planning documents can give someone more direct control over what happens when they die, but those efforts could go to waste if family members initiate probate litigation. Some people recognize long before their passing that their family members are more likely than the average family to fight over their resources. Is it possible for those planning an estate in New York to specifically prevent conflict among their beneficiaries?
They can add special clauses to a will
One of the more common ways that people seek to prevent probate litigation that is unnecessary is the inclusion of a no-contest clause in their testamentary documents. A no-contest or in terrorem clause can diminish or eliminate someone’s inheritance if they challenge estate planning documents. Probate courts in New York will uphold no-contest clauses in certain circumstances, including when someone brings an unfounded challenge against a testator’s will.
They create a trust
When someone uses a will to control the descent of their resources, there are numerous reasons that family members and beneficiaries could challenge their plans. Claims of undue influence, diminished capacity and fraud could all lead to the probate courts setting aside someone’s estate plan. A trust is harder to challenge and can allow someone to leave far more detailed instructions about what happens with their assets after they die.
They communicate clearly while still alive
Unrealistic expectations and disappointment are often the driving forces behind probate challenges. Therefore, giving everyone in the family a clear idea of what to expect could reduce the likelihood of litigation later. Open and honest communication could also help family members fight back against seemingly frivolous attempts to undermine someone’s estate planning efforts.
Those in New York thinking about their legacies generally need to very carefully review their circumstances to effectively plan to reduce conflict after they die. Recognizing that careful planning can minimize a risk of conflict might help someone to effectively mitigate the potential of damaging probate disputes among their loved ones after they die.