How to Prevent Someone From Contesting a Will

By Anna Assad

A contest to your will may drag out the legal proceedings for your estate, deplete the inheritance you left for your loved ones, and cause ill will in your family. Any person with legal standing in your estate, such as an heir, has the right to contest your will in court. The basis for the contest depends on what the heir believes occurred, but some common claims in a will contest are fraud, undue influence — when one heir believes you were coerced into your will provisions by someone else — and the assertion that you were not mentally competent at the time the will was drafted.

A contest to your will may drag out the legal proceedings for your estate, deplete the inheritance you left for your loved ones, and cause ill will in your family. Any person with legal standing in your estate, such as an heir, has the right to contest your will in court. The basis for the contest depends on what the heir believes occurred, but some common claims in a will contest are fraud, undue influence — when one heir believes you were coerced into your will provisions by someone else — and the assertion that you were not mentally competent at the time the will was drafted.

Step 1

Review your will. Look for vague or unclear wording. A contest may arise if your heirs are not sure what you meant in certain provisions.

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Step 2

Schedule an appointment with a medical professional before signing your will, especially if you are in poor health. Ask the physician for a letter certifying your mental competence. Keep the letter with your will or in another safe place.

Step 3

Schedule a meeting with your heirs or talk to each person individually. Make the terms of your will clear, and explain your reasons for distribution of your assets. Answer any questions and try to reach a consensus among your heirs. A contest of a will sometimes stems from the surprise or hurt that the contents cause to an heir. Preparing your heirs and answering questions while you can may avoid a problem later.

Step 4

Record a video of yourself explaining the will's terms. Put the video in a safe place or store with a trusted relative. A video of you explaining your intent may serve as proof that you understood your will in probate court.

Step 5

Insert a no-contest provision in your will. A no-contest clause means any heir who challenges your will risks losing his inheritance share if your will is found to be valid. The threat of forfeiting his entire inheritance may deter an heir who would otherwise contest the will.

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How to Prevent Contesting a Will

References

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