ANDERSEN PLLC Andersen PLLCAttorneys

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How to control your estate even after your passing

Considering and executing estate planning documents such as wills and trusts should take place as soon as possible and not when old age or death is imminent. But, estate planning should prevent beneficiaries and heirs from disrupting this plan and honor the testator's wishes when warranted by a family situation.

This planning essentially removes the discretion and ability of troublesome heirs and family members to complicate the estate. It can help assure the relatively quick distribution of the estate's assets and help avoid a will contest.

If a child may be difficult in administering an estate or a trust, plan for the worst. It may be necessary to bring in a trusted family member or friend to serve as an executor or trustee. If there are no qualified candidates, it may be worth retaining a professional advisor or trust company to manage the estate. This may cost more but might ultimately reduce legal fees and assist with handling difficult beneficiaries.

Another way to avoid conflict in the estate planning process is to include "no contest" clauses in planning documents. Taking this step can prevent troublesome family members from disputing a will or a trust. If they do decide to challenge estate distribution under these circumstances, then they risk losing their inheritance.

By carefully planning an individual may be able to avoid probate. This keeps the estate out of court and takes away the opportunity for unsatisfied heirs to contest a will or other estate planning document. Placing assets in a trust or passing them on by beneficiary designation is one way to avoid probate.

Documents relating to one's estate should be drafted to take away the opportunity for a troublesome heir to take control over an estate and/or trust administration. Drafting such documents should address the distribution of assets, whether assets are sold or distributed, and name successor trustees.

Finally, it may be worth considering cutting a troublesome heir out of a will or an entire estate plan. Those who find themselves in this position may think about payment of enough cash to make up for this loss to avoid a contest of the estate plan. Under these circumstances, a no contest clause should also be included.

An attorney can assist with this type planning and provide guidance that allows an individual to move forward with confidence that assets will be distributed as desired upon his or her passing. Lawyers can help lower the possibility of rancor, expense, and delay with the distribution of the estate.

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