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  • Writer's pictureWorley Elder Law

Strategies You Need for Avoiding Conflicts in Your Estate Planning

Have you completed your Florida estate planning, including your will? However, are you concerned about there being a will contest after your death? What exactly could a will contest do? It could possibly lead to prolonged court battles, strained family relationships, and significantly deplete your estate's assets.  In order to avoid these risks, there are several steps you can take right now in your Florida estate planning. We would like to share them with you. 

1. Plan to work with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney. To begin, it is absolutely crucial to work with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney. A skilled lawyer will be sure that your estate plan is legally sound, adheres to state laws, and clearly articulates your wishes. They can also provide advice on strategies to minimize the chances of a contest, including being sure all legal formalities are correctly followed. It is important for you to share your specific concerns about potential contests with your attorney and ask for tailored advice to mitigate those risks.

2. Plan to speak with your loved ones. Be sure to speak with your attorney first, but talking and transparency can often prevent misunderstandings and disputes in families. You may decide to discuss your Florida estate plan as well as your goals with your loved ones. You do not need to divulge every detail, but explaining your decisions can help manage expectations and reduce the likelihood of surprises that could lead to future contests.

3. Plan to select the right decision makers. It is extremely important to choose trustworthy and competent agents, personal representatives, and trustees. These individuals will be responsible for working with an attorney to administer your estate and ensure your wishes are carried out. Their ability to handle the role effectively and communicate with beneficiaries can greatly influence the probability of a dispute. You should consider discussing this important role with them to be sure they are willing to serve in this capacity before naming them in your Florida estate plan. 

4. Plan out what you want clearly before you begin. The clearer your Florida estate plan, the less opportunity there is for interpretation or contention. Work with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney to be explicit about your wishes, including the distribution of specific assets. Your attorney may even recommend you write a letter that could accompany your estate plan for specific family members.

5. Plan on thinking about and considering using tools like trusts to avoid probate. One of the complications of using only a last will and testament in your Florida estate plan is that your estate will need to go through the probate process. Because the probate process is public and it could open your estate up to challenges. However, when you use a trust agreement and place your assets into it, you can eliminate the need for probate and provide a more structured distribution through trust administration. 

6. Plan on regularly updating your Florida estate plan. There are so many life changes, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of children, the sale of a business, or acquiring significant assets, that may necessitate updates to your estate plan. By regularly reviewing and updating your plan to reflect these changes, you can ensure that it accurately represents your current wishes and circumstances, reducing the potential for disputes.

7. Plan on the emotional impact of your estate plan. You need to be aware of the emotional impact of your passing, of your estate plan, and of any inheritance. Many times unequal distributions or perceived slights can lead to hurt feelings and disputes within your family. Of course you cannot control how others feel and you do not have to consider this in your planning, but there is a need to be as fair and thoughtful as possible in your approach which can minimize negative emotions that might fuel a contest.

Finally, while it is not possible to guarantee that your estate plan will not be contested, taking these steps can significantly reduce the risk. Be sure to discuss your specific concerns with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney and seek their advice.  You can then develop a comprehensive strategy that addresses potential challenges and works towards ensuring your final wishes are respected and your loved ones are cared for as intended.

We know this topic may raise more questions that it answers and want to help you plan for the future, and the unexpected. Whether you're young and single or a married five-time great grandparent, your voice and wishes need to be known. Worley Elder Law, based in beautiful Bradenton, Florida, focuses on helping you understand your options in designing your Estate Plan or Elder Law needs. Whether it's preventative incapacity planning or establishing your legacy, we will take the time to explain every option and work with you to create a customized plan just as unique as you and your family are. Please do not hesitate to contact us to let us help you.


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