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Wills: How to avoid heirs challenging your last wishes

When it comes to the last wishes of New York residents, those wishes might not always be honored, or they may be challenged. Advisers suggest people take steps to draft bulletproof wills. They say because people live longer and second or third marriages are prevalent, many branches get added to the family tree -- some of which might expect to feature in a will. There might even be some of those who are prepared to fight for a piece of the estate.

One precautionary step is to add a no-contest clause to the will. That will not necessarily stop a person who was left out of the will to contest it because he or she will have nothing to lose. However, it might discourage beneficiaries who want to claim more than what was left for them because such a clause means that the person contesting the will might end up with nothing if the challenge is unsuccessful.

It might also be smart to eliminate the possibility of disgruntled heirs claiming the person who drafted the will did not have the mental capacity to write a valid will. A doctor's note to confirm mental capacity included with the will should invalidate such claims. Another step that might avoid issues arising after death is to discuss the will with the heirs and explain the reasons behind the stipulations of the will. Even if some are not happy about specific issues, it will give them time to get used to it and know what to expect.

While a variety of options is available for drafting wills online, it is important to remember that each person's estate planning is unique and might be best handled as such. An experienced New York estate planning attorney can listen to the client's wishes and explain the available options. This may allow the client to make informed decisions about the most suitable way to draft his or her will while ensuring it is legally sound.

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