Maybe you want to disinherit one of your children because they have consistently disrespected you or essentially abandoned you in your golden years. Perhaps you want to leave more for charity than for your biological family members, and you expect that multiple people will be unhappy with your choices.
In theory, your estate plan reflects your wishes. However, the people who expect to inherit from your estate might take legal action against your estate and challenge your wishes if they are not happy with the legacy you leave behind when you die. Is it possible for you to prevent such challenges through careful estate planning?
Thorough, updated documents help the most
People have the easiest time challenging estate plans that are vague, that do not comply with state law or that have obviously outdated terms, like a deceased family member included among the beneficiaries.
By creating an estate plan that talks in detail about your wishes and then updating your documents frequently when circumstances change, you will reduce the likelihood of family members having valid grounds to challenge your wishes.
Can you add a no-contest clause?
Some people protect their estate plans from probate litigation by including no-contest clauses. These specialized additions specifically penalize or disinherit those who would challenge your will.
Unfortunately, while you can include such terms in your estate plan without immediately invalidating the documents, the Florida probate courts will not uphold no-contest clauses. This rule helps protect vulnerable older adults from financial abuse as caregivers could manipulate them into changing their estate plans and then adding a no-contest clause.
You can include such a clause as a deterrent, but you should recognize that the Florida courts will not uphold the clause and disinherit one of your beneficiaries if they challenge your wishes.
You can preempt family disappointment through communication
One of the simplest ways to prevent challenges in probate court is to talk with your family members about your intentions. Those who understand your wishes and who have had time to come to terms with your decisions are less likely to drag your estate through probate court because they want a larger inheritance.
You may also want to consider integrating trusts or certain kinds of deeds into your estate plan to have more control over what becomes of your property when you die. Thinking about the possible challenges that can arise during estate administration can help those creating or updating an estate plan in Florida.