An estate plan is more than a will. It’s a collection of documents dictating what will happen to your estate after your passing and, in the case of living wills or advance directives, what your heirs can do when you’re still alive.
In theory, whatever you put in your estate plan is supposed to be followed. If your heirs do not want to, however, they may attempt to challenge the plan. Knowing why this happens can help you avoid it. Here are three common allegations that people use to try to dispute an estate:
1. You did not have the necessary mental capacity
As you age, you may suffer from issues like dementia. Your heirs may claim that changes made to your estate plan don’t reflect what you actually wanted on account of this condition. They’ll want to revert to an older version.
2. The will itself was not official
Maybe no one saw you write the will or you didn’t get it properly filed. Maybe there is another will that some heirs believe takes precedence. They may claim the plan you laid out wasn’t ever official, even if you thought it was.
3. You were influenced by one of the beneficiaries
This is commonly known as undue influence. If you were talking to one heir a week before your passing and suddenly made changes to leave them more of your assets, the other beneficiaries may claim that person manipulated or coerced you into making those changes.
Creating a plan that stands up to testing
The goal of considering these potential issues should be to learn how to avoid them. You can make an estate plan that will stand up in court if you know what legal options you have.