Estate planning is essential to assist in carrying out a person’s final wishes for their assets after he or she passes away. However, using such measures does not automatically guarantee successfully carrying out the goals of the estate. One such device that can hamper a well-laid estate plan is known as a will or trust contest.
A will or trust contest is defined as a type of lawsuit objecting to the validity of a will or trust. If successful, such a contest invalidates the will or trust. It is important to note that only a person who will be personally affected by the case’s outcome (i.e. has “standing”) may challenge the validity of a will or trust. Such individuals largely are broken up into two categories: disinherited heirs or those who would inherit if there were no will.
If a person seeking to contest a will or trust is found to have the proper standing to do so, he or she must next contend with a filing deadline determined by the laws of the state where the case is filed. Failing to file a will or trust contest in time acts to completely bar the interested party from filing.
Additionally, Delaware is one of just nine states that allow a resident to establish the legitimacy of their estate plan before death occurs. Such a process acts to confirm any and all estate planning choices while the person is still alive and capable of defending these decisions. As a result, the testator can potentially bar any future challenges to their estate plan after they die.
Lastly, employing a DIY method for estate planning too often leads to more headaches than solutions. Individuals concerned with potential challenges to their estate plans ultimately should consult with an experienced estate-planning attorney who can assist in creating and maintain a plan that likely can thwart a will or trust contest.