The majority of contested estates and wills occur because one or more family members are not happy with how the decedent’s estate is to be distributed – more specifically – how that distribution will affect them directly. Making sure your family understands the reasons for your decisions and respecting those decisions is one of the key factors in minimizing the change of disputes, but also documenting that you were of sound mind when you made your decisions.
As you go through the estate planning creation process with one of our probate attorneys in Philadelphia, it is important to consider the needs and wants of your heirs. Are there items that you have that may be important to one family member but not to another, such as a piece of jewelry? Do you have family members that struggle financially that often need your assistance, but other family members who are financially secure? And if you own multiple properties, is there a family member who has the desire and financial ability to take over ownership of the home compared to another member who has no interest at all in it? These are the types of issues that you should consider when deciding how your estate should be distributed.
Once you have made your decisions, the next important step is to explain to your family why you made the decisions you did. Hearing this from you, along with why, is much better than finding out after you have died during the reading of your will. Having regular discussions with family members can go a long way in avoiding a contested estate and family fighting when you are gone.
Even after taking the above steps, there is still a chance that a family member will be unhappy with your decisions and still attempt to contest your will when you are no longer here. This is another reason why it is crucial to keep good records, as well as work with one of the skilled Philadelphia probate attorneys from our firm when it comes to actually drafting all the documents for your estate plan.
You also want to choose someone you can trust to follow your wishes as the executor of the estate. This can be a family member, friend, attorney, or other professional.
At Klenk Law, we know the process of estate planning can be daunting. For beneficiaries and executors, resolving an estate can be incredibly stressful. To mitigate problems down the road and ensure that your wishes are carried out as intended, reach out to our probate attorneys in Philadelphia.