Your will is the embodiment of your last desires and the final avenue for caring for loved ones. However, after you can no longer personally ensure its carrying out, others may contest it.
They may try to overturn your wishes and steal what you leave your family and friends. By incorporating certain factors while writing your will, you can help prevent or minimize the chances of a successful contestation.
Clear language and specificity
When drafting your will, use clear and unambiguous language to express your intentions. Avoid vague terms that may lead to confusion. Clearly identify your assets and the individuals you want to inherit them. Providing detailed instructions leaves little room for misinterpretation and reduces the likelihood of disputes. Include a letter or video detailing reasons for your decisions to avoid claims you were not in your right mind while writing the will or wrote it under coercion. A doctor’s note confirming your mental capacity at the time may also lend credence to the former.
Witnesses and signatures
In Oregon, having witnesses is an important element in validating your will. Sign it in the presence of at least two competent witnesses who are not beneficiaries. Make sure that all signatures are in ink and without any alterations.
Updates and special clauses
Life is dynamic, and circumstances change. Regularly review and update your will to reflect any changes in your personal or financial situation. Communicate these changes so they do not blindside beneficiaries. If you suspect anyone in particular of being more likely to contest, you can leave them a specific token amount in your will and add a no-contest clause to show that you did not forget them and incentivize them not to try to break it.
Wills can be sources of contention for both those with many assets and those with fewer ones. Contestations are not uncommon. However, by planning ahead, you can help preclude one from succeeding.