When it comes to disputes, many people are under the assumption that to dispute something all they have to do is make their challenge verbally known. While that may work in many practical applications, when it comes to estate planning, it is not enough. In order for anyone to raise a legally valid dispute against an estate, their claim must meet certain criteria.
Disputes can prove beneficial for the individuals leveraging them. However, disputes can also prove catastrophic to estates and can lead to administration and inheritance issues. Here are three things to consider when making a dispute-proof estate plan.
The law enforces legally valid estate plans. To determine whether an estate plan is legally binding, a probate court must authenticate it. The key elements of a legally enforceable estate plan include:
Before an estate plan is enforceable, the testator must endorse it with their signature. The testator should see a notary when providing their signature to their estate plans. If notarization is not feasible, disinterested individuals may sign as witnesses.
Anyone who creates an estate plan must not have any issues that could call into question their mental capacity. Mental capacity is the ability to make good-faith decisions without outside influence. A lack of capacity means an inability to fully understand and remember information to enter into agreements and delegate/manage responsibilities. Certain cognitive disorders, health ailments and disabilities are commonly used to challenge wills and estate plans.
Estate challenges are quite common. Family members may challenge a testator’s last wishes for any reason. But in order for their dispute to have legal standing, it must establish one of the pre-mentioned factors.