A will is the foundation of any estate plan. Done right, a will allows you to determine who will inherit your assets when you pass on. Without one, California intestate laws would step in and determine how your assets are to be distributed. And this might not sit well with you.
However, inheritance disputes are on the rise. A dispute over your will can scuttle your wishes and ruin your legacy. Worse still, a will dispute can sow a lasting seed of discord that can impact your family for a very long time. Which leads to the question, what can you do to prevent inheritance disputes?
Here are two simple steps you can take to minimize the probability of someone contesting your will.
Make sure your will is properly executed
Most will disputes are rooted in the document’s validity. For a will to be deemed valid in California, you must be at least 18 at the time of signing it. Next, it must be witnessed by at least two adults who are not named as beneficiaries. Also, you must be of sound mind at the time of signing the will. This is known as the testamentary capacity. A will that does not meet the basics of California’s wills laws will certainly be disputed and invalidated.
Be as clear as you possibly
Unclear or ambiguous language is another leading cause of will disputes. You want to be certain that your will expressly mentions all your assets alongside their designated beneficiaries. The last thing you want is for your heirs to guess what you meant by certain provisions when you are no longer around to clarify your wishes.
A will dispute can be a huge headache. Besides protracting the probate process and depleting assets that would otherwise go to your heirs, a will dispute can also permanently strain the relationship among your heirs. And while you can never rule out the possibility of someone disputing your will, you can take certain steps to reduce this risk.