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Thinking ahead may help prevent contested wills

Documenting final wishes and instructions for those charged with administering an estate is a common practice in which many New York residents engage. No two wills are exactly the same as execution is highly customizable to meet individual needs and long-term goals. There are several things estate owners can do to decrease chances of having their wills contested.

To ensure the validity of a will, it's best to rely upon an attorney familiar with the particular laws of the state where the document will be probated. State laws vary regarding issues such as how many witnesses must be present when a will is signed and other formalities. The person executing a will must also be of sound mind in order for the will to be valid. 

Some people include no-contest clauses in their wills. This simple process may help prevent stressful situations down the line, such as one person claiming they got the short end of the inheritance stick or were told something verbally that appears to differ with the written instructions of a particular will. A no-contest clause doesn't necessarily prevent someone from contesting a will, but states that if a contest is initiated and lost, the person who contested receives nothing from the estate. 

Thoroughly executed wills can also help protect real estate investments and business assets. A solid business succession plan may be the ticket to avoiding contests in this area. A will is by no means the only available tool for protecting one's estate, but is definitely one of the most common documents included in such plans. A New York estate planning attorney can offer guidance in all aspects of the process.

Source: timesreporter.com, "How to prevent my will from being contested", James Contini, July 2, 2017

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