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Keeping the peace: Steps you can take to avoid will contests

Creating a will or a comprehensive estate plan is something that every adult should strongly consider. These legal solutions can be crucial in helping to sort out and distribute a person's assets in the event of death. While it may seem uncomfortable or frightening to discuss estate and probate matters, doing so can prevent a lot of stress and heartache for family members and loved ones in the future.

Even if a person does have a will, family members or other parties may try to challenge it. In order minimize the complications that can arise from having no will or from a contested will, it can be helpful to focus on a few steps.

To begin with, it is crucial to create your will with a clear mind. This means that it should not be drawn up when you are under the influence of drugs and alcohol or suffering with mental conditions that can impair your judgment.

It will also be important to make sure that your wishes are clearly explained, particularly if they may appear to be surprising or unfair. A person who is negatively affected by the terms in a will may be more likely to challenge it if he or she does not understand why a certain decision was made.

Updating a will can also be an easy way to avoid future complications. If a will appears to be outdated or not in line with a decedent's financial standing at the time of his or her death, it can be challenged. Revising a will to reflect changing financial or family situations can be a wise decision.

Finally, it is imperative that a will be complete and legally enforceable. In order to do this, you can discuss your wishes with an attorney who can help you ensure that the conditions and terms set in your will can be lawfully carried out. An attorney can also help you address issues you may have overlooked that could be grounds to contest the will.

Source: FindLaw.com, "The Probate Basics," accessed on Feb. 27, 2015

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