Individuals who have accumulated assets over time often wish to ensure that said holdings are protected and passed to their loved ones after their passing. One aspect of ensuring this process occurs is through action known as an estate plan. While estate planning is important, protecting said actions from lawsuits by bickering relatives or unscrupulous persons is equally critical.
Estate Plan Overview
Solid estate plans should contain specific directives regarding how the would-be deceased individual wishes their assets to be distributed. Authoring a legal document known as the last will and testament lays the groundwork regarding how important issues like asset distribution, debt remittal, tax preparation, and other key matters will be resolved.
Additionally, a reputable estate plan will contain provisions to protect one’s assets should the person remain alive but become mentally or physically incapacitated. Said protection comes in the form of a power of attorney designation, which bestows a trusted family member or associate the authority to render certain financial and legal decisions on the author’s behalf, sign important documents, gain access to their financial accounts, and conduct other pertinent actions such as paying expenses.
Moreover, estate planning experts recommend that their clients establish healthcare proxies. These legal documents enable a trusted relative or associate to render important medical decisions on the author’s behalf in the event the author becomes too ill to render such decisions for themselves.
Lawsuit-proofing Your Estate Plan
Unfortunately, estranged, disputing, or unscrupulous family members or associates might allow greed or bad blood to challenge estate plans through civil actions known as lawsuits. Fortunately, however, estate planners may be able to deter such behavior by executing the following actions:
Paying Close Attention To Debts
When individuals die, many entities tend to emerge from the proverbial “woodwork” laying claim to a deceased person’s estate. In certain instances, said claims might be true. Therefore, estate planners are strongly encouraged to document all debts like credit card bills, mortgages or any other type of loans. Once said debts are identified, estate plans should clearly define how these debts are to be repaid.
Establishing The Planner Is Of Sound Mind
This piece of advice might sound like hokum. However, many wills have been challenged on the basis that the complainant opines the author was coerced into establishing the document in question or was not in their right mind when they wrote it. Said occasions can be circumvented by authoring the will in the presence of an attorney and witnesses who will sign the document and swear that the author is of sound mind and under no coercion. Further, irrefutable proof can be established by obtaining documented proof from a physician or mental health professional.
Put Any Disinheritance In Writing
Should a will’s author be at odds with a relative and choose to bar said individual from recouping any assets, the disinheritance should be documented in the will. Again, a legal instrument firmly shown to be written when the author was shown to be of sound mind renders the arguments of any potential suitors less convincing.
If you need to have your estate plan lawsuit-proofed, contact the experienced team of lawyers at Fellerman & Ciarimboli. We are estate planning experts and we’ll help make sure your estate plan is set up properly.