Many circumstances can lead to probate litigation. Careful planning can help you reduce your chance of probate litigation and the risks involved if litigation does occur.
Which steps should you take to lower your probate litigation risks?
Mitigating the risk of incapacity
Disagreements between family members that occur during a time when aging or ill parents are incapable of making their own financial decisions are one of the leading causes of probate litigation. While many people are hesitant to turn over control of their financial and health care decisions, failing to do so when necessary leaves your estate open to probate litigation. Making a plan and nominating a guardian or conservator now can avoid placing your family members in the position of making difficult decisions about who should be in charge of your care if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. You can make this nomination in your will, health care proxy or durable power of attorney.
Avoiding the risk of dying without a will or trust
Another major contributor to probate litigation is dying without a will or trust or with a will or trust that has not been sufficiently updated. Establishing a will or trust and keeping it up to date allows you to specify what happens to your estate and reduces the risk that family members may end up suing over the distribution of assets.
Making decisions and codifying those decisions while you have the capacity to do so can provide you with peace of mind and reduce the risk that your wishes will be unclear or contested, leading to probate litigation.