This blog has previously discussed ways Minnesota residents can, to the extent possible prevent a costly and stressful inheritance dispute. While not all disputes are avoidable, there are some ways that a resident of Saint Paul can do to prevent a will contest.
According to at least one source, the key to a good will is specificity. When a Minnesotan writes a will, he or she should give as much detail as possible as to his or her exact wishes, even over matters that seem to be trivial or uncontroversial.
The other important preventive measure that people can take is naming and keeping current their lift of beneficiaries, executors and, as necessary, proposed guardians for their minor children. Not nominating such people in the first place at best will cause confusion and at worst will undermine the whole point of having a will at all. Not updating these important appointments from time to time could mean that an undeserving or undesirable person gets a share of an estate or an important decision-making role.
Also, while it may seem obvious to some, it bears repeating that one’s heirs will need to be able to find an access critical estate planning documents. Hiding a will in a safe deposit box for which no one has a key does a family little good.
On the other hand, while trusts and other alternative methods of estate planning can be valuable tools, people need to be careful not to rely too heavily on them.
It is important, for example, to remember to name a beneficiary to a retirement plan or other account rather than leaving it in the hands of one’s estate. However, it is also important not to put too much stock in assets like transfer on death accounts; they have their place, but they cannot replace a well-drafted and properly thought out will or trust.