If you know that your family is likely to fight over your estate, you can limit the fight greatly, by using a trust instead of a will.
Many family fights over estates are predictable. People know when their family members do not get along and are likely to fight over their inheritances. They know that “unequal” inheritances are more likely to trigger trouble, too.
When it comes to estate planning, it is important to understand that those fights quite often result in protracted court cases over the estate. This is especially true, if the main instrument used to distribute the estate is a will that has to go through probate by its very legal nature. Some of this mayhem may be avoided by using a trust instead as the Times Herald-Record discusses in "Trusts avoid inheritance disputes among family members."
Since trusts do not go through probate, there is no open probate case for family members to easily file a claim. That in and of itself makes a trust much less likely to lead to litigation. It is also easier to use the trust document itself to create language making family fights less likely. Even if there are fights, an independent trustee can often referee those fights and thus avoid any litigation.
It is nearly impossible to completely guarantee that no family fight will ever occur over an estate. An estate planning attorney can help make those fights much less likely, by creating a good trust.
Reference: Times Herald-Record (April 5, 2018) "Trusts avoid inheritance disputes among family members."
Contests over wills are increasing in Canada just as in the U.S. Despite there being several ways to successfully contest a will, it is not an easy thing to do.
Part of the population in the U.S. has seen continually rising wealth in the last few decades, while other parts of the population have not. In the process, one trend has emerged and that is that there are more wealthy estates that people deem worthy of fighting over. As a result, more wills are being contested in court by those who do not believe they have been left the inheritances they deserve.
The U.S. is not alone in this trend. The same thing has been happening in Canada, as The Globe and Mail reports in "Left out of the will? Here are your options."
The options for challenging a will in Canada are very similar to those in the U.S. There needs to be a good reason why the court should disregard the will and distribute the estate differently.
A common reason is by citing undue influence. That is the allegation that someone has inappropriately influenced another who has diminished capacity of some sort to create a will for the benefit of the influencer. It is not an easy case to prove, but it is possible to do so.
In the U.S. and in Canada, not just anyone can challenge a will. Only people who have a financial interest of some sort in the estate can make the challenge.
If you want to challenge a will, the first thing you need to do is visit an estate attorney. The attorney can evaluate your claim and let you know whether it is a good idea to proceed with a challenge.
Reference: The Globe and Mail (Feb. 26, 2018) "Left out of the will? Here are your options."