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Guarding against successful incompetency claim in estate planning

As people in Texas age, they start to think about how they would like their estates distributed after they pass away.  Many choose to work with an experienced estate planning professional to make sure their wishes are honored. Despite their efforts, some family members may choose to challenge an estate plan. As a result, many professionals offer advice that can either potentially dissuade a person from issuing a challenge or safeguard an estate if a plan is challenged.  

In some cases, a person who has been disinherited may be financially motivated to challenge an estate. While some people creating a will or other estate planning documents may want to send a message by leaving a token amount, such as $5, many professionals recommend against this action. Instead of completely disinheriting the person or leaving a token amount, some professionals advise leaving the person a sum sufficient enough to prevent him or her from challenging the estate to prevent the risk of losing what was left. 

Estate planning professionals who take simple precautions can also help protect an estate plan from a challenge based on claims of the testator's incompetence. By determining that the person is generally aware of all of his or her assets, is able to create a plan to distribute those assets and can provide the names of family members that are close, competency can be established. Even those who may struggle with certain tasks, such as balancing a checkbook, are likely considered competent if they can accurately provide the above information.

There are many people in Texas who want to ensure that their wishes are known and followed following their deaths. While estate planning can express a person's wishes regarding estate administration, it can not completely prevent a challenge. Fortunately, those with experience with the process can take proper measures to help protect an estate from a successful challenge. 

Source: investmentnews.com, "Creating estate plans for elderly clients with fading mental competency", Jeff Benjamin, Sept. 30, 2016

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