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Can a testator reduce the chances of a will challenge?

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2021 | Wills |

Individuals who take steps to write a legal will may perform a great service for their heirs and for themselves. Through a will, a testator ensures that personal assets and property go to the preferred hands. That might not happen when intestate laws drive the probate court’s decision. Testators might not please every heir, however, and someone could try to contest the will. When engaged in estate planning, a testator might employ specific steps to make a challenge in Maryland courts difficult.

Steps to reduce the chances of anyone contesting the will

Effective estate planning could cut down on the chances of a challenge. Proper planning may include adding an “in terrorem clause” into the document to dissuade a challenge. The clause states that any beneficiary who challenges the will loses everything if the challenge fails. However, in Maryland, the corresponding statute says that the clause becomes void when a probable cause for a challenge exists.

There may be some less combative ways to curtail any potential problems. Discussing aspects of the plan with beneficiaries may help. Knowing how beneficiaries feel about specific assets or some of the testator’s plans might dial down disagreements.

Putting together an effective plan

Would a trust work better than a will? Questions like these could come up during the estate planning process. Starting the process sooner rather than later might work in everyone’s favor as well. Moving forward with putting together a legally sound will is more advisable than letting too much time pass without a will.

DIY wills might not be the best documents for those wishing to avoid challenges. Individuals who attempt to draw their wills without assistance might make mistakes that cause problems during probate.

An attorney may assist with writing a will during the estate planning process. The attorney may also advise clients about other documents that factor into planning.