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How could parents keep children from contesting a will?

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2021 | Blog, Estate Planning |

Parents may wish to fairly and equitably provide for their children in the event of their passing. However, once a will enters into probate, the surviving siblings may fight things out in a Pennsylvania courtroom. Parents doubtfully want to see their children suing one another over the contents of a will, but that outcome may occur. Hopefully, effective estate planning strategies could cut down on the chance of a bitter probate challenge taking place.

Estate planning takes court challenges into consideration

When writing a will, the testator should think about how surviving beneficiaries may react to the terms. An 85% – 15% split could leave the person with the lesser amount furious, although there might be compelling reasons for the lopsided distribution. Perhaps one sibling became estranged for years. Perhaps providing a written explanation in the will to reveal why a parent arrived at a particular decision could be worthwhile. One party might not feel pleased about the explanation, but the added commentary could serve as evidence in any challenges.

Keeping the contents of a will secret until the testator’s passing might not be a wise plan when anticipating an upset heir. During the estate planning phase, an attorney may advise a client whether taking this step is advisable.

Working with an attorney has another benefit: the attorney may serve as a witness if someone contests the will. An attorney could testify that the will reflects the testator’s true intentions. Writing a will without an attorney eliminates a counsel’s potential testimony. Additionally, the will may not be legally valid, leading to Pennsylvania intestate laws guiding the distribution.

Additional items of consideration when drawing up a will

Are there any belongings that have sentimental value to a particular sibling? If so, then giving such things to that person seemingly makes sense. In some instances, ordering the liquidation of property and the even distribution of money could make things work smoother. Leaving a house to a brother and sister might prove disastrous if neither party agrees on what to do with the property.

Meeting with an attorney to discuss estate planning might need to become a priority. Working with the attorney could involve deciding how to avoid any problems among heirs.