Afraid Your Will Might Be Challenged?

Will challengesWill challenges are pretty rare and most often are the result of poor execution.

That’s all the more reason to use an experienced estate planning attorney to help you create your estate plan. It’s the common mistakes that cause the most trouble, especially when a person tries to save money and do it themselves. If you work with an attorney who focuses on wills and estates in your state, he or she will know when a law changes—and how it can impact your plans and objectives for your legacy.

The time to think about a possible will contest or challenge is in the initial planning process. If you and your attorney discuss your concerns from the start, he or she can plan around them and design tactics that can avoid or reduce the chances of a will contest.

It’s much simpler to tackle a problem now than to try to solve it later after you’re not around. When working with your lawyer, the more information you offer, the more likely the problem can be addressed and avoided.

For example, if you are considering favoring a daughter who has taken care of you for many years but there is a concern that the other children will be upset, discuss this with your estate planning attorney.

Your attorney may ask you to get a letter from your physician. That letter should confirm that, that in his or her medical opinion, you’re of sound mind and have the capacity to make your own decisions. Capacity is a common challenge to a will. A begrudged heir may claim you were not mentally capable of signing a will.

Your attorney may also record the will signing, so there’s evidence that you weren't under another person’s influence or pressured into signing the will. Don’t be surprised if your attorney asks that the caregiving child isn’t at the signing, to lessen the concern of undue influence.

Some folks will leave a person they intend to disinherit a dollar. That won't do anything, except cost your estate a dollar. Just because you left them a dollar, doesn't mean they can't challenge the will.

Some people also want to have a term in the will stating that anyone who challenges the will is disinherited.  However, that is not a 100% lock. This provision, known as an in terrorem clause, is unenforceable in many states.  We've had some fairly wishy-washy decisions from our high court here in Virginia for example.

Speak with an experienced estate planning attorney and plan for the challenge. Odds are it will never arise. However, if it does, by taking these steps, your family will be ready and your wishes will be honored.

Reference: The Northwest Indiana Times (September 3, 2017) “Choosing an executor”


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We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
  • Please continue to follow the directives of our local, state, and federal agencies. For your health and in consideration of our team who is assisting you, if you’ve scheduled an office appointment or planned to drop off paperwork and are experiencing a fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care doctor for guidance and then our office to reschedule.

Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.