That is a tough one, but there are steps you can take.
With people living longer, things can be messier.
For starters, with increased longevity there is a greater likelihood that later-in-life remarriages will occur with more assets accumulated. In addition, there are more children, stepchildren, grandchildren, step-grandchildren, not to mention great-grandchildren on both sides.
Yes, things can get very complicated.
Throw in a sense of "entitlement" here and there ... and you have one volatile cocktail.
Can you say "Molotov cocktail"?
For some practical pointers to help ensure your estate plan can withstand attack, we turn to a recent USA Today article titled “5 ways to make a bulletproof will.”
The no-contest clause.
This provision discourages people from disputing a will. Basically, the clause means that anyone who challenges the will gets nothing.
This clause can make beneficiaries think long and hard about trying to get more than you bequeath them. Even better, it will make any attorney reluctant to take their case, too.
Emphasize your wishes verbally.
Creating your will may seem a personal and private task. However, you should really try to communicate with your heirs to avoid unintended turmoil after your death.
If you tell your loved ones what you are intending and why while you are alive, then you can explain your rationale.
It also clarifies that your choices are yours alone—making it more difficult to successfully contest the will.
Allowing heirs to understand your wishes can defuse hard feelings.
Ask your doctor to verify your mental health.
A valid will must be made by someone of sound mind. Disgruntled heirs may question whether you were in your right mind when you made the will. In fact, they may try to convince a judge to disregard your wishes.
If you are older, consider having a doctor examine you close in time to when signing your will. Have the doctor write a note that you are sound of mind.
Get a lawyer.
The do-it-yourself, fill-in-the-blanks will-preparation software is inexpensive and convenient.
However, in life you tend to "get what you pay for," yes?
A cheap online will may not be up-to-date with current laws, which could open the door for challenges.
Consider a living trust.
Unlike a will, a living trust legally transfers your assets to designated beneficiaries without probate.
A trust is private, but a will is a public record.
Also, since by definition as living trust is created and used by you during your lifetime, a living trust is more difficult to challenge at your death.
A living trust can include directions for your finances in the event you are incapacitated, whereas a will cannot.
A will only has authority when you die and if it is delivered to the probate court within the statutorily required timeframe (i.e., six months in Kansas and one year in Missoiuri).
Speak with an experienced estate planning attorney to learn more about whether a living trust or a will is right for you.
So, how do you find an "experienced" estate planning attorney?
First, ask around. Friends, family and other professional advisors are trustworthy sources.
Second, conduct an "organic" search on "Google" for "estate planning" near you (e.g., "Estate Planning Anytown MoKan").
Third, either way, verify! Check out the education, experience, ratings and client reviews of any attorney before you contact him or her.
In fact, I use both of these services to thoroughly vett attorneys before referring members of our "client" family for legal help in other areas of law or for matters in jurisdictions outside Kansas or Missouri.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.
Reference: USA Today (Sept. 27, 2016) “5 ways to make a bulletproof will”