Family fighting over estate plans and court challenges are sometimes unavoidable. When people feel slighted or have grievances, they often feel compelled to fight to the end. However, it might help to avoid court challenges to your estate plan if you gave your family a chance to express their feelings before you pass away.
When people think they have been wronged and treated unfairly in an estate plan, they often feel like they have no choice but to challenge the estate plan in court. That is their only opportunity to get the estate plan changed in a way they think is appropriate. It is their only chance to engage in a dialogue with other family members about the estate plan and their grievances.
Recently, The Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog offered another suggestion in "Using Family Meetings to Smooth Over and Explain Estate Transitions."
The idea is a fairly simple one. You can call a family meeting, including everyone who has a potential stake in your estate plan. At the meeting you can tell them what you plan for your estate and why. By doing so you give your family the opportunity to say how they feel about your plans and to engage in dialogue about it.
If your family has the opportunity to discuss it now, it might make it less likely that they will take it to court after you pass away.
Of course, a family meeting about an estate plan is not necessary for all families and it is not a panacea that will result in no challenges to an estate plan. It is, however, one method to perhaps make estate challenges a little less likely.
Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (Dec. 7, 2015) "Using Family Meetings To Smooth Over And Explain Estate Transitions."