Informative Masterclass
How to Protect your Family’s Assets and Leave a Lasting Legacy
Save Your Spot Now!

White Plains & New City, New York Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm

How to Defend a Will Contest

December 6, 2022
David Parker, Esq.
What doesn't Medicare cover.
David Parker, White Plains and New City NY Estate Planning Attorney
David Parker, Esq.
David Parker is an attorney who specializes in Estate Planning and Elder Law and has been practicing law for 30 years. Be it Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Proxies, or Medicaid Planning, David provides comprehensive and caring counsel for seniors and their families. A large portion of David’s practice is asset protection strategies so that families do not lose their hard earned savings to nursing home care costs. He also handles probate administration for the settlement of estates.
The news is full of stories about the famous who didn’t bother to make a will to dispose of their substantial fortunes. Although many others did make a plan, various issues with their testamentary documents have led to costly and protracted litigation.

Will Contest - Many famous and wealthy people made mistakes with their estate planning. For instance, Beatle John Lennon’s will failed to mention his first son, Julian Lennon. Railroad heiress Huguette Clark left two wills, 42 days apart, for her $400 million estate. The second will disinherited her family members named in the first. Singer James Brown left the bulk of his estate to charity and passed little to his wife and children.

MSN’s recent article entitled “Counterattack: Tips for Thwarting a Will Contest” says sophisticated planning by the wealthy elite doesn’t preclude disappointed family members from trying to change the results. Putting an in terrorem provision (no-contest clause) to a will or revocable trust is a traditional strategy to discourage attacks. This clause can cause the forfeiture of an inheritance, if someone objects to being excluded from a will.

However, because no-contest clauses are unenforceable in some states, you might ask an experienced estate planning attorney about other strategies like these:

Require mediation for disputes. Some states permit mediation, arbitration, or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to resolve issues of interpretation or administration. A will could require a potential contestant to use an alternative to litigation.

Use a litigation holdback fund. Instead of forfeiting his or her total interest by filing a lawsuit, the beneficiary’s interest could be escrowed and its access restricted during a contest. The interest when eventually paid to the beneficiary would then be reduced by the expenses of litigation.

Address common grounds for contests in advance. You can anticipate a contest based on common attacks:

  • The testator was not of sound mind. Have the testator undergo an examination by two physicians for capacity issues. Provide the physicians’ signed statements as schedules to the will.
  • Forgery or manipulation. Include a statement of testator intent in the will about the estate plan.
  • Invalid execution. For charges of undue influence, or lack of valid execution, execute the will during filming of a video. Explain the dispositive scheme and name the beneficiaries. It is also important to get a signed statement from witnesses and the notary and have a third-party certify the video’s authenticity.
  • Later will or trust. Add a statement in a video about the documents being the most recent versions and that they haven’t been revoked.

Reference: MSN  (Nov. 9, 2022) “Counterattack: Tips for Thwarting a Will Contest”


Share This Post
Stay Informed
Subscribe To Our FREE Estate Planning, Probate and Elder Law Newsletter

Book Your Free Initial Consultation With Parker Law Firm Today
Get Started Now

The 15 minute initial phone call is designed as a simple way for you to get to know us, and for our team to learn more about your unique estate planning needs.

Book an Initial Call
Book A Call With Parker Law Firm
Parker Law Firm
White Plains Location

222 Bloomingdale Rd #301,
White Plains, NY 10605

New City Location

120 North Main Street, Suite 203,
New City, NY 10956

IMS - Estate Planning and Elder Law Practice Growth Advisors
Powered by