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Can your estate plan prevent probate challenges later?

Your estate plan is a written record of your wishes and plans for after your death. You may also include some instructions regarding the medical care you would prefer to receive if you suffer some kind of incapacitating medical event.

If you take the time to create estate planning documents and prepare an inheritance for someone that you love, you would expect that your family members would respect your wishes and follow your instructions. However, many families experience intense disagreements about an estate after someone dies.

Someone who expects an inheritance could contest your will, and that could delay probate proceedings for months and drastically increase what it costs to settle your estate. Can you structure your Connecticut estate plan to prevent challenges against your wishes?

Connecticut does allow no-contest clauses in wills and trusts

One of the most powerful legal tools for deterring unnecessary probate challenges is the no-contest clause or in terrorem clause. A no-contest clause creates a penalty for any beneficiary or heir who challenges your wishes after you die.

If a member of your family contests your will and forces your family to fight against them in probate court, a no-contest clause can punish them by stripping them of their inheritance. Connecticut has historically upheld no-contest clauses unless the person who brings the challenge in probate court can reasonably claim that they did so in good faith and that they had probable cause for such a contest.

Trusts can also help

Instead of simply using a will to designate beneficiaries, you may want to create a trust. A trust will give you more control over what happens to your assets after your passing and can protect certain property from taxes and creditor claims. A trust can also be more difficult to challenge in probate court.

You also need to prepare your loved ones so that they know what to expect from your estate. Many testators will benefit from talking with their family members about their establishes so that there isn’t any confusion or frustration when the family reads the will. Learning more about different estate planning tools can help people in Connecticut create effective estate plans.