Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis Presley’s daughter, passed away on January 12 following hospitalization for a medical emergency. 2 weeks later, her mother, Priscilla Presley, challenged the terms and validity of her Trust in a lawsuit filed on Thursday, January 26 in Los Angeles. So, what can you do to ensure your Will and Trust are valid and protect them from legal challenges? The South Florida Estate Planning Attorneys at The Siegel Law Group answer that question and more about Estate Litigation in today’s blog.
The Fight Has Just Begun
Priscilla Presley is fighting to prove that Lisa Marie’s latest Will, from 2016, is invalid. The Will names Lisa Marie’s two older children as her sole trustees. Priscilla claims that the 2016 version of the Will, which replaced her as the sole beneficiary, does not feature Lisa Marie’s true signature and has varying dates in it.
Priscilla also claims that she never received an amended copy of the Will in 2016, which she did in 1993 and 2010. This was a requirement of the two prior versions of the Will, according to Priscilla’s lawsuit, and that her name was spelled incorrectly.
5 Tips to Avoid Having Your Will Contested In Florida
There are many steps you can take to avoid having your Will contested in Florida. The more you focus on these steps, the less likely it will be that someone contests your will following your death. You cannot prevent anyone from legally challenging your Will. However, if you hire an experienced and skilled Estate Planning Attorney, any challenges to your Will are less likely to be successful and an opposing attorney is more likely to advise a potential challenger against challenging your Will in court.
1. Create a Will Early
Do not wait until later in life to create a Will. The most common Will contests happen when the person who died was incapacitated. Many times challengers claim that an elderly decedent was unfit mentally when their Will was created. Make sure you leave no doubt when creating your Will that you are of sound mind and body so that no one can make this claim once you die.
2. Use a Trust to Protect The Assets of Your Will From Being Contested
You can have control over your assets even after you die if you put those assets in a revocable Living Trust. Having your assets in a Revocable Trust makes it much more difficult, and expensive, for the challenger to contest the Will. A Trust also helps to protect your information from those who might want to challenge your Will.
3. Ensure That The Will is Executed Correctly
You also need to ensure that the technical parts of the Will are handled correctly. If not, you run the risk of the Will being contested and that contention succeeding. Your South Florida Estate Planning Attorney can ensure that the Will meets the following criteria:
- It is in writing
- Signed by the testator on the final page
- Signed by the testator with two witnesses present
- Signed by the two witnesses in front of each other and the testator
Even if all of these steps are followed, someone might still wish to contest the contents of your Will. One way to protect the validity of the Will is to record you creating it and then signing it. Video proof of what you are adding to the Will and then signing can help remove a lot of doubt from the minds of those who wish to contest it.
4. Discuss The Contents of Your Will With Family
Do not keep the contents of your Will a secret from your family. This is an important discussion to have with your spouse, children, grandchildren, siblings and anyone else who might be named in the Will. Many people view this as holding someone’s inheritance over their heads. This cannot be further from the truth. It lets you show your family why you made the choices you made. If these discussions occur over email, the content can be added to the testimony during a will contest in court.
5. Conduct a Regular Review of The Will For Possible Changes or Additions
It is vital that you conduct a regular review of the Will for any changes or additions. For example, if you got remarried later in life, check the Will to make sure your new spouse is listed as a beneficiary. If you want to add their grown children or grandchildren, now is the time to do so. It’s a smart practice to review your Estate Plan and beneficiaries every 3 – 5 years.
A South Florida Estate Planning Attorney can conduct the review with you present. Make sure you tell your attorney everything that has changed in your life, including the following:
- If you were promoted
- If you inherited a large sum of money
- If a named beneficiary has since died
- If you want to add new beneficiaries
- If your marital status has changed
Call THE South Florida Estate Planning Attorney – Barry Siegel
Do you have questions about Estate Litigation or a Valid Will or Trust, talk to THE South Florida Estate Planning Attorney – Barry Siegel. Call our office at 561-576-6206 to schedule a complimentary consultation or submit our online contact form to schedule a consultation today. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.