Children can end up challenging a parent’s will or trust after the parent’s death because they feel they have not been fairly treated. An example of a typical will challenge of a New York decedent’s estate may occur when a child and the parent are estranged, and there is a second wife, who is not a parent of the children. The parent bequeaths the bulk of their estate to their new spouse, and the children contest the will or trust after the parent’s death.
Even when you are not always on the best of terms with your children, to avoid an estate challenge by your children after your death, it is important that you sit down and talk to your children while you are alive about the disposal of your assets and convey your wishes. This way you and your children can come to a mutual understanding so that your children will accept and respect your decisions. Just in case that will not work, ask your estate planning attorney to draft a no-contest clause in your New York will.
Being proactive about a possible will challenge by your children will give you the peace of mind knowing that your intentions will be carried out the way you wanted after your death. Avoiding a will contest also helps avoid delays in the distribution of your assets to your children and any other beneficiaries after your death, and your children will avoid unnecessary litigation costs and the stress associated with filing a will or trust litigation matter.
In order to be successful in a will or trust contest, the person making the challenge must be able to prove that a New York will or trust was improperly signed, the parent was not of sound mind, was under undue influence/interference or coerced, there was fraud or forgery. Learn more about what makes a successful New York will contest. Absent proof of these circumstances, it would be difficult to prevail in a will or trust challenge litigation matter in the New York Surrogate’s Court. Often times a will or trust challenge can be avoided by simply communicating your intentions with your children and with proper estate planning advice from an experienced New York probate and estate attorney, which may include extra precautions when planning for your estate, such as an in terrorem clause, a hidden trust, doctor opinions and possibly even a video of the execution of the will or trust.
If you wish to speak to a New York City estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233.