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Can you keep your kids from contesting your will?

The last thing you want is for your children to fight over your estate and contest your will after you pass away. The whole reason you drafted a will is that you wanted to make the transition of assets go smoothly, allowing your family members to stay close.

You can't completely guarantee that your will won't be contested, but there are steps you can take to make it less likely.

For one thing, you should plan ahead. Children sometimes protest a will if they believe you were past the point where you could be trusted to make choices that were in line with what you really wanted. For instance, they may claim that a degenerative brain disease clouded your judgement. You can get around this by making the will long before that would be an issue.

It's also wise not to keep secrets from your kids. Tell them what you've left them in the will. If possible, get everyone together as a family to talk about it.

What you may find is that potential issues come up in advance. Your son may say he really wanted an asset you didn't think he cared about, for instance, or your daughter may say she's fine with selling the family home to split the money when you thought she'd want to keep it. You may be able to identify possible conflicts and make changes to address them.

The key, in many ways, is to be proactive about planning. Don't put it off and do it in a hurry near the end of your life. Take your time, do it right, and be sure you know how the legal process should play out.

Source: The Balance, "5 Tips for Avoiding a Will Contest," Julie Garber, accessed May 24, 2017

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