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Avoiding Estate Litigation in Texas

 Posted on February 27, 2024 in Estate Planning and Administration

TX estate planning lawyerWhen you take the time to create an estate plan, you should have peace of mind knowing that your estate will be settled the way you want it to. However, a misstep during the estate planning process can leave your estate vulnerable to litigation during the administration phase. Experienced Tarrant County, TX, estate planning attorneys recommend taking certain steps to head off the possibility of litigation. Most will contests can be prevented by using a trust to dispose of most or all estate property. When a will is used, further steps can be taken to dispel accusations of fraud or to discourage disgruntled family members from challenging the will. If you are beginning the estate planning process or planning to update your estate plans, it is important to work with a well-qualified lawyer.

Ways to Prevent Problems in the Administration Phase

Steps your lawyer may recommend taking to protect your estate plan include:

  • Rely on trusts, not wills - It is much harder to contest a trust than it is to challenge a will. A will that has been submitted to probate can be seen by anyone, whether or not they are a named beneficiary. This means that nearly anyone can seek out a reason to contest the will. A trust can be seen only by those who are named in it. This makes it difficult for anyone you do not include in your trust to challenge the document. 
  • Use a contest-prevention clause - If you are using a will to transfer any property, you can include a clause stating that anyone who files a will contest is barred from inheriting anything. However, for this type of clause to work, it is advisable to leave a small gift to those you are worried about contesting the will so they have an incentive not to file a challenge. 
  • Explain omissions - If you omit a person others would expect to inherit from you, such as one of your adult children, it is wise to explain in writing why you have omitted this person. Otherwise, the omitted individual might claim that those who did inherit had an undue influence as you were drafting your will. A signed and witnessed writing explaining that you left that adult child out because, for example, you have not seen or heard from them in many years while your other child stayed and took care of you in your old age may reduce the odds of litigation. 

While there is no guaranteed way of preventing all potential problems in the administration phase, there are many ways to reduce the likelihood of a challenge.

Contact a Tarrant County, TX Estate Planning Lawyer

Cain & Kiel Law is committed to creating the strongest estate plans possible. Our experienced Cleburne, TX wills and trusts attorneys will do all we can to protect your estate plan from potential challenges. Contact us at 817-645-1717 for a confidential consultation.

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