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Challenges to a will can be addressed prior to litigation

For many clients, living wills are an essential part of the estate planning process. Such documents describe the type of medical treatment that an individual might accept or decline in the event of incapacity.

Yet it is equally important to communicate with one’s children or other loved ones about the content of an estate plan. When an individual is no longer able to provide informed consent, the decision may fall to children or other loved ones, who may not be unanimous in their opinions.

According to a recent report, there may miscommunication between parents and children regarding issues of elder care and estate planning. Whereas over two-thirds of parents claimed that they had had such discussions with children, around half of those children did not remember any such conversation. About 20 percent of the families who participated in the survey also admitted to disagreements over the role that children might play in their aging parents’ lives.

Family disagreements often survive the passing of a loved one, as well. Our estate planning law firm has helped clients in this very situation. When heirs dispute the terms of a will or the decisions of the appointed executor, it may require litigation to resolve the dispute. Commonly contested issues may involve claims of a breach of fiduciary duty, challenges to the validity of a will or trust, or disagreements with an executor’s decision.

Fortunately, a proactive approach to a potential will contest may also be possible. An attorney can serve as a communication resource in such situations, explaining the wishes of the client and how the provisions in various documents may impact beneficiaries. An attorney’s trained eye can also look for potential trouble spots in wills or trusts, working to create an estate plan that contains valid documents and clearly outlines the decision-making roles.

Source: Time, “Here’s What Your Aging Parents Say They Want You to Do for Them,“ Kerri Anne Renzulli, June 28, 2016

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