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Are they ways to plan for potential litigation during probate?

On Behalf of | Dec 23, 2020 | Blog, Estate Planning & Administration |

Writing a will provides a way for someone to leave assets to heirs. The assets may range from personal belongings to stocks and bonds or real estate property. Upon reading a will, Pennsylvania probate courts make determinations based on what the will says. Of course, the law also allows others to contest the document’s directives. A relative might choose to file suit to get his or her “rightful inheritance.” It is wise to work with an attorney during the estate planning phase to make the written will more difficult to challenge.

Establishing why someone was not in the will

During probate, the snubbed beneficiary might try to counter the will’s directives by claiming the decedent was not in his or her sound mind, dealt with undue coercion or something else. The decedent’s attorney commonly serves as a witness during proceedings designed to contest the will, but other evidence could support the document’s original intentions.

The attorney’s client may have specific reasons why a child, parent, sibling or another relative receives nothing in their will. When writing the will, the client could also write a document pointing out the reasons why someone received nothing. The document could go into the attorney’s client file. Suggesting that witnesses listen to a verbal explanation might be another option, along with making a video recording.

Designating beneficiaries on accounts

Estate planning may also involve listing beneficiaries on accounts that would transfer ownership upon the primary account holder’s death. Such assets transfer out of probate, and the transfer may prove smoother than would be the case in probate proceedings. Discussing beneficiary designations and other non-probate transfers with an attorney might prove helpful.

Estate planning steps may include addressing potential litigation during probate. The client and the attorney may discuss ways of dealing with such issues, which might make the process less challenging for heirs.