A last will and testament is not always the final word of a testator. Wills frequently trigger long-suppressed family rivalries and resentments. With the testator no longer on the scene, children or other heirs are freed to express their resentments. These resentments often worsen when the will’s plan for allocating of money, valuable property or sentimental items is made known, leading to dispute and litigation. These disputes can be very time-consuming and costly resolve, sharply diminishing the value of an estate. This program will discuss grounds for will contests and practical steps lawyers and their clients can take to avoid challenge.
- Spotting red flags in will contests – disinheriting close family members, unequal treatment of children, unusual behavior of testator & more
- Sources of law in will contests – grounds for challenging wills
- Practical steps to avoid will contests – will ceremonies, videotaped testaments, witness selection, affidavits
- Use of In Terrorem provisions to prevent will contests
- Issues surrounding holographic wills and other informal wills
Note: This material qualifies for self-study credit only. Pursuant to Regulation 15.04.5, a lawyer may receive up to six hours of self-study credit in a reporting year. Self-study programs do not qualify for ethics, elimination of bias or Kansas credit.
Steven B. Malech is partner in the New York City office of Wiggin and Dana, LLP, where he is chair of the firm’s probate litigation practice group. He is represents beneficiaries, fiduciaries and creditors in disputes involving alleged violations of the Prudent Investor Act and its predecessors, alleged breaches of fiduciary duty, disputed accountings, and will contests. He represents clients in cutting edge probate litigation matters involving trusts and estates with assets in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Mr. Malech received his B.A., with special honors, from the University of Texas and his J.D. from the Connecticut School of Law.
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