‘I’ll receive my husband’s estate, but how can I stop his son challenging MY will?’

Jan 10, 2021
How far will this reader go to keep a lock on her estate? Source: Getty.

Q: If my husband passes before me, what do I have to do to stop my stepchild from contesting my will as I am the sole beneficiary of my husband’s estate? Or can I leave a small something in my will to stop him that way?

A: Assuming your stepchild is eligible to challenge your will, you cannot stop them from doing so. Each state and territory specifies a group of people who are eligible to challenge a will so it’s important to know which group applies in your location. If they are eligible, you can only reduce their prospects of success by using various techniques, including:

  • Die with nothing.
  • Do a ‘statement of wishes’ with your will to explain why you have done your will in the way you have. It’s important that this letter addresses all the relevant issues and some professional advice on this might also help.
  • Put everything you own into a trust or
  • Don’t worry about it, you’ll be somewhere else at the time so just let go – you can’t reach down from heaven!

What I can say is that:

  • You can make a will in any way you like and give your assets to whoever you want, the law does not require you to give anything to anyone.
  • Giving $1 or similar to a beneficiary will not prevent them from challenging your will, or your estate if you have no will, and that’s because a person who is entitled to challenge your will can do so either because you haven’t given them anything or because they believe you haven’t given them enough.
  • Giving $1 to someone in your will is almost guaranteed to make them challenge as it comes across as a slap in the face.

There are other control techniques around beneficiaries that are more complex but in another ‘der’ moment, you would need to spend some of the inheritance you propose to give to others now by, once again, getting some legal, if not, financial advice.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.

Have you had to consider stepchildren in your will?

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