You may have strong feelings about who you would like to receive what assets from your estate when you die. Especially if you have close relationships with loved ones or worry about providing for your children, you may have invested a lot of effort into carefully planning your last will.

All of that work can be undone in mere moments if someone from your family decides to challenge your last will or estate in the probate courts. How can you prevent a challenge from derailing your legacy?

Steps you can take while creating a last will

The first and most important thing you can do to increase your control over your legacy is to actually commit your plans to writing in a formal last will drafted by a lawyer and witnessed by other people. Until you have a formal last will, any informal estate planning you’ve done would be very vulnerable to a challenge.

When you do create your last will, you can include a no-contest clause. The Washington courts will typically uphold these clauses. If someone brings a challenge against your estate, unless they do so in good faith and with probable cause, such as evidence of wrongdoing or undue influence, the Washington courts will follow your instructions, which could potentially include disinheriting that individual.

Talk to your loved ones about your intentions

Frustration with the terms included in the last will or surprises can lead people to challenge someone else’s legacy. While you don’t have to go over every detail with your loved ones, giving them an idea of your general intentions can reduce the likelihood of an unnecessary challenge.