Estate planning is looked upon by many people as an exercise in document creation. On your own, with no one looking, you state your final wishes regarding the way that you want your assets to be distributed after you are gone. You will not be around to see how others react to these decisions. This can give you a sense of independence, and you may want to make statements through your actions.
When you plan your estate, you have every right to distribute your assets as you see fit. At the same time, you may want to consider the fallout that can come about if you make choices that some people will be very upset about.
Estate challenges can enter the picture if you have disgruntled people who want to challenge the validity of the estate plan that you left behind. If you use a will as your asset transfer vehicle, interested parties could contest the will during the probate process. This will slow things down considerably, and even if there are no challenges or complications, probate will typically take around a year to run its course.
Some people think that you can prevent challenges by using a living trust instead of a last will. This is not entirely true. There is no built-in mechanism for challenges through probate because a trust is not subject to probate, but a lawsuit could be filed. This is true even if you include a no contest clause.
There are those who are under the impression that a no contest clause can prevent someone from challenging a trust through the initiation of a lawsuit. Such a clause would act as a disincentive, because a litigant who is a beneficiary could be disinherited if the suit fails. However, the disgruntled party could take his or her risks and go forward anyway.
You probably want your family members and friends to get along after you pass away. If you make decisions that will be unpopular to some, there could be lingering resentments that damage the family.
We are not suggesting a particular course of action. However, if you want to plan your estate effectively, you should take these things into consideration.
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Our firm can help if you would like to discuss all of your estate planning options with a licensed legal professional. We offer free consultations, and you can send us a message through this page to set up an appointment: Smithtown NY Estate Planning Attorneys.