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Greenwich Connecticut Estate Planning Law Blog

Can you challenge a will that you don't like?

You get a copy of your parents' will in the mail, after they pass away, and you simply do not like it. Some of the provisions do not sit well with you. Maybe it instructs you and your siblings to sell the house and divide the profits, when you wanted to keep the house. Maybe it gives money to a sibling that you know will simply waste that money, or perhaps it does not leave you as much as you expected.

Can you challenge it just because you don't like it?

Understanding testamentary capacity in Connecticut

Connecticut law sets forth several requirements for a valid will. One of these states that the testator must be of sound mind. It can be difficult to arrive at a precise definition of the exact line that marks a lack of capacity.

Descendants who are unhappy with a will's provisions may attempt to challenge it based on lack of testamentary capacity. While it is not possible to guarantee a lack of litigation, there are steps a testator can take to guard against potential attacks on the will.

Questions your family has to ask without health care guidance

As you do your estate planning, it is important to create a health care directive and a power of attorney. This can give your family members some guidance so that they know what to do if you cannot make your own decisions.

For instance, if you suffer a stroke and go into a coma, do you want them to use life support to keep you alive? Or would you prefer for them to allow you to pass away naturally if you could not live without machine assistance?

Considerations as you select a guardian for your children

As part of your estate planning, you may need to pick out a legal guardian. If you pass away while the children are still minors, you know that someone will be there to take care of them. This person may also help transfer your estate to the kids as you designate. Young children have many financial needs, but this does not mean you want to leave all of your assets directly to a 10-year-old.

The first thing to think about when selecting a guardian is finding someone who has the same parenting style and the same values that you do. This gives the child consistency. It also gives you peace of mind since you know the child will be raised to live the same type of life as if you were still around.

Disputes over selling inherited real estate

Parents often try to avoid estate disputes by leaving property to children in equal amounts. While this can help when it comes to stocks, bank accounts and other such assets, it can actually cause disputes when it involves real estate.

For instance, imagine that you have two siblings and your parents own a home that is worth $600,000. They leave it to the three of you so that you all control a third.

How an irrevocable trust impacts government benefits

An irrevocable trust is one that you typically cannot modify, amend, revoke or change in any way. There are rare situations that allow for some alteration, but, generally speaking, the trust has to stay exactly as it was when you set it up. The assets are no longer yours. Now they belong exclusively to the trust.

People often do this to avoid estate taxes. If your estate is large enough that you will have to pay significant taxes, putting money in a trust that pays out to your heirs is a good way to get down below the tax threshold and still give that money to your family.

6 benefits of doing your estate planning

Far too many people pass away without any type of estate plan in place. They do not even draft a will. This can happen to famous, wealthy people -- the very people you would think would be most conscious of the need for a plan -- and to those with far fewer assets.

For all income levels and estate sizes, a plan is necessary. Below are six of the major benefits of finally sitting down and getting your estate plan in order:

  1. An estate plan can help you avoid tax mistakes and reduce the tax burden on your heirs.
  2. An estate plan can help your family save both time and money after you pass away.
  3. An estate plan can keep your heirs from fighting over your inheritance or taking their disputes to court.
  4. An estate plan can establish guardians for any children who are minors; this is why it is important for even young parents to have a plan, regardless of the amount of assets they control.
  5. An estate plan can ensure that the government does not decide what is going to happen with your money and your assets.
  6. An estate plan gives you unique ways to control those assets after death. For instance, you can set up a trust to dictate when your heirs get the assets or what the money can be used for.

3 common reasons families dispute over an estate

When you begin planning your estate, one of the primary objectives is to minimize the possibility of dispute amongst family members once you have passed away. This can be tricky, and even the most airtight estate plan does not guarantee that a family member will not object or legally dispute it. There are several steps you can take, though, to minimize the chances of this and plan your estate wisely. 

The following are three of the most common reasons families dispute over the details of an estate. 

Do you know what undue influence is?

One issue that may arise while dividing up a person's estate is that of undue influence. In some cases, this can be used to contest a will.

Generally speaking, undue influence is when a person in a position of power, authority or trust uses that position to manipulate someone else. When used against an elderly person, this influence could cause that person to leave money or property to the other individual.

Estate disputes: Disinheritances and unfair distributions

Have you ever heard of a family fighting over a parent or grandparent's estate? Did you just shake your head, wondering how it could have come to this? Maybe you saw how the estate dispute caused irreparable damage to the heirs' relationships.

While estate disputes can happen for many reasons, two of the biggest ones to watch out for are disinheritances and unfair distributions.

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