Avoid Litigation – How well is your Trust or Will?

Aug 18, 2020
Estate Planning Living Trusts Trust Administration Wills / Power of Attorney

There are few things more destructive to family relationships than dealing with disputes after a loved one’s death. Dealing with potential high-value assets along with grief can be overwhelming and ruin a family. Additionally, intense strife over a will or trust may result in some or all of your intended beneficiaries attempting to abandon your estate plan.

One of the main goals behind comprehensive estate planning is to avoid litigation after your passing. Fortunately, there are many estate planning services you can use to avoid common trust- or estate-related litigation.

Choose your power of attorney agent carefully

The number-one variety of disputes related to trust administration is when the individual you select to act as your successor trustee commits a breach of fiduciary duty. There are several ways that this can occur. This can involve the successor trustee trying to use estate assets for his or her personal gain. It may also involve investing assets from an estate or trust improperly or failing to file taxes on assets.

Therefore, it is extremely important to carefully select your Successor Trustee and Executor. You should choose somebody you know to be reliable, honest and level-headed. Not only should you choose carefully, but your selected person should know the responsibilities required by this position. You should also include a way in your estate plan to remove a bad Successor Trustee and executor without other entities needing to bring forth a lawsuit.

Ensure that there is no question of anybody pushing “undue influence” on you

Many trust or will contests involve allegations of third-party entities coercing the will or trust creator. This meddling leads to an estate plan that reflects the desires of the third-party and not the creator. It is possible for this third-party to be a friend, service provider or family member. Unfortunately, elder financial abuse is not uncommon.

One of the best ways to prevent abuse speculation is to hire a competent estate planning attorney. An attorney can help determine whether the trust/will creator is under undue influence. Additionally, an attorney can help you create advanced protections against third-party meddling, like a revocable living trust. This can be useful if you are afraid that certain family members will contest your estate no matter what you do.

Ensure that you have protections in place if your asset distribution plan will cause problems

Problems are likely if you are planning to favor some children over others in your estate plan. In this case, it is all but guaranteed that one of the unfavored children will mount a challenge. Another example of this is if you have a descendant who struggles with substance abuse issues. You may want to leave this person some assets after your death. However, you may also wish to put a third-party in charge of this person’s share of assets because you do not believe he or she will act in his or her best interest.

There are many ways to use estate planning strategies in such instances. It is important to get advice specifically tailored to your situation to ensure that everybody honors your estate plan after your death. AmeriEstate can help you with our estate planning guide.

Contact AmeriEstate today to get started.