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More tips to avoid legal disputes over wills

Estate planning, if not done properly, can lead to several types of legal challenges. To follow up on a recent blog post, Minnesota readers may appreciate additional tips on how to avoid emotionally and financially draining legal disputes over a loved one's will, particularly when that loved one is elderly and potentially struggling with chronic illness.

In some cases, a Minnesota resident looking to pass his or her wealth to loved ones may want to consider using a trust rather than a will to do so. While trusts can be litigated, it may be harder to do so because, by their nature, trusts tend to be administered privately. Moreover, trusts do not require the same notifications and public proceedings as wills do, meaning a person who wants to contest an inheritance may find it difficult to raise the issue in a timely fashion.

While a recent blog post focused on how to monitor and safeguard a person who may be suffering from diminished capacity, it is also helpful to remember that will contests can be prevented by careful drafting and monitoring of the will document itself. Who actually prepared the will is a key question in many probate disputes.

For example, it may be advisable when a person advanced in age is preparing a will to have that person meet privately with his or her own estate planning attorney in order to discuss the details of the document. Wills prepared by friends or loved ones, particularly when they stand to benefit, are subject to challenge. It goes almost without saying, of course, that the will should be properly signed and witnessed.

Unfortunately, even the most careful estate planning may not prevent all legal disputes about inheritances. Should a probate fight rear its ugly head, a skilled estate litigation attorney may be of valuable assistance.

Source: The Times-Herald Record "Head off a family 'will contest' with careful planning," Bonnie Kraham, Dec. 5, 2013

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Mason & Helmers
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