Just about every will goes through the process of probate. Probate allows the courts to verify the legitimacy of the document, settle debts and distribute assets. This can be a difficult process for a number of reasons, from the emotional toll it can take on your family to the legal complexities that can arise.
However, you can make it easier on your loved ones. One way to make probate faster and easier is to protect your will from contests. You can do this in a few different ways.
- Have one will and make it accessible only to certain people. Confusion can arise when there are multiple wills found, or when a will cannot be found. By making sure you keep one updated will in a safe -- yet accessible -- spot, you can minimize the risk of someone claiming they have a different version of your will.
- Ensure the will is enforceable. If your will is inaccurate, fraudulent, not in writing, unsigned or signed without witnesses, your will may not be valid. Under these circumstances, the will can be contested.
- Don't leave anything open to interpretation. Clarity and specificity can solve a lot of problems before they arise. You are not doing anyone any favors by being vague or assuming others will be able to guess your intentions in the provisions of your will. Oftentimes, there are multiple interpretations, and your loved ones could be left to battle over who is right in court.
These are just a few of the basic steps you can take to minimize any confusion surrounding your will. And while they may seem minor, these details can have a significant on the probate process and your loved ones' experiences. To ensure you have a solid will in place, it can be a good idea to consult an attorney who can help you create, review and revise this and any other estate planning materials you may need.