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Stop family squabbles over your will before they start

Are you worried about your will being challenged after you are gone?

It's not an uncommon fear -- or an unusual problem. Sometimes a death brings out long-buried rivalries and "who gets what" can be seen as turning some of the heirs into winners and others into losers.

Before you draft your will, here are some important thoughts that you should keep in mind:

1. In order to challenge your will, someone has to have the proper legal standing to do so. Generally speaking, the only people who can mount a challenge in court are the relatives who are your legal heirs and any beneficiaries that you specifically name in your will (whether or not they happen to be related to you).

In practical terms, since your legal heirs generally only include your husband or wife, your minor and adult children, your parents and your brothers and sisters, that means you don't really have to worry about anybody else who may be dissatisfied with your will -- like greedy nephews or grasping cousins.

2. Even if someone has the legal right to challenge your will, they have to also have a good reason to do so.

Ultimately, all challenges to a will boil down to the fact that someone is unhappy with what he or she is supposed to receive, but that isn't a legally acceptable reason to take the issue to court.

Common challenges usually have to do with the deceased's soundness of mind when the will was written and whether or not the will is technically valid.

Put your will together long before there's any reason to question your mental acuity and use an attorney to prepare your documents -- you'll reduce the chances that any challenge will succeed.

3. If you suspect that there will be fighting over your estate when you die, discuss the issue with your attorney.

Your attorney can tell you for certain if the potential troublemaker in the family has the legal standing to challenge the will in the first place -- and exactly what steps you should take to minimize the likelihood of any challenge succeeding.

For more information on how our firm can help you with estate solutions that are custom-crafted to meet you needs, please visit our web pages on the topic.

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