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Tips for Avoiding Disputes to Your Will

When you write out a will, you expect it to be honored after your passing and for your estate and assets to be dispersed as directed. However, there are times when a will may be disputed for some reason, and in some cases, those disputes may hold up the disbursement of assets and may even change the terms of your will. To avoid disputed wills as much as possible, note a few simple tips that you don't want to overlook.

1. Know the law

No matter what you put in your will, there may be laws in place that trump your own wishes. This means that your spouse may have certain rights to your shared estate and assets, and certain debts may need to be paid before your estate can be dispersed to others. If you don't put these things in your will, your spouse and creditors may dispute it after your passing and everything will be held up until those disputes are settled. A good way to avoid this is to consult with an attorney that specializes in estate planning, probate, and wills, and ensure that you follow the law when it comes to how your will is structured.

2. Word it properly

Sometimes the way a will is worded will cause disputes, and here too an attorney can assist. As an example, if you were to say that you leave everything to your "family," this may not be specific enough and may open up the will to disputes. Your cousins, grandchildren, and other distant relatives may consider themselves "family" and in turn, they may contest the will and ask for a share of your estate. You might not be specific enough when it comes to leaving real property to heirs, such as saying you leave them your "vehicles." One child may assume they get the truck while another assumes they both should share the truck and the sports car. An attorney can ensure the will is worded in a way that reflects your wishes and makes it easy for probate courts to understand those wishes, avoiding potential disputes.

3. Have it signed and witnessed properly

If the persons you had witness your original will have since passed away or may be hard to find when you pass away, someone may contest the validity of your signature and those witnesses. It's always good to have your signature witnessed by an attorney or other professional and a notary public, who can verify your signature after your passing. If needed, update your signature and the witnesses to your signature as needed, so no one contests whether or not you actually signed it.