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How to use estate planning to avoid challenges to your will

When it comes to setting up your estate plan, one of the most difficult topics can also be one of the simplest: How do you keep someone from challenging your will? Estate planning is designed to make the distribution of assets easier, but errant family members can cause headaches for Illinois clients. Here, we give you additional information on exactly who can challenge a will – and how you can keep your estate plan airtight to avoid a challenge.

There are three categories of people who have the legal right to challenge a will. These are the current beneficiaries of a will, the previous beneficiaries of a will and intestate heirs. There is a subtle distinction between the first two parties listed here. Current beneficiaries are those who have been named in the most recent authorized versions of the will. Previous beneficiaries are those who are named in earlier versions – someone who was “cut out,” if you will.

Beneficiaries can include relatives, but they may be anyone who is named in the estate distribution documents. Some beneficiaries are companies or charitable entities such as universities. In some instances, beneficiaries are also pets – it is all up to the person whose assets are being distributed!

You may have heard of a “no contest” clause that nullifies a will if the estate plan is challenged in court. Although those are commonly cited as legal options, the truth is that they are often unenforceable. Someone who has the legal standing to challenge your will is rarely blocked from being able to do so. How do you decrease the likelihood of a challenge to your estate plan? Be honest and upfront with your beneficiaries – and create an enforceable plan that has been reviewed by a legal professional.

Source: FindLaw, “Who Can Challenge a Will?,” accessed April 14, 2017

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