How to Protect Your Inheritance When Your Elderly Family Member Loses Their Mental Capacity

Yes, even the happiest of families seem to find themselves getting into disputes and battles when it comes to financial inheritance. This is even more so the case when a will is contested, or the individual who is deceased (or can’t make decisions on their own any longer), has no way to attest to and confirm their wishes. So what do you do when these disputes happen? Better yet, how can you prevent them from taking place to begin with?

Make sure you have a legal premise –
You want to make sure you have legal footing when dealing with contested wills, trusts, and family members who are incapacitated. Visit with your lawyer regularly and make sure all wills/trusts and documents are up to date. Make sure the relative who is leaving behind property or money has fully signed and dated all documents. With physical proof, and a will which is complete in hand, it will be far easier to prove your legal rights to the financial inheritance, once your family member can’t confirm or deny their wishes.

Make sure you know the law –
In some states, ambiguity in the will means you will not receive what is owed to you; in other states, as long as you have proof and signed documents proving what you are stating, you should win your case. Make sure you have a lawyer who is skilled in wills and estate matters, and who is up to date on legal jurisprudence and possible conflicts of interest at the time of death or incapacity.

Make sure terms of the will are blatant and spelled out –
There should be no ambiguity when it comes to the terms of the will. If you are to receive the inheritance, this should be clearly stated. If you should receive a portion of property/finances, this should be clearly stated. When there is ambiguity, and a family member who isn’t included in the will tries to contest is, they are going to have an easier time proving their point, and getting a portion of your inheritance.

Power of attorney –
The best way to protect your inheritance is to make sure there is a power of attorney appointed to a will. If your family member has left their will to a lawyer, this should be updated regularly. If you have been given power of attorney to make decisions if they become incapacitated, make sure the legal documents are updated regularly, while the individual is still alive. Due to conflicts arising regularly, the more complete and the fewer questions there are pertaining to the will and which parties should receive a portion of the inheritance, the easier it will be to fight those who wish to contest the document.

If you need information about wills, trusts, and other legal documents, you can find it here. Your best defense is proper legal representation. So when ambiguities exist, if there are questions around the will, or if you simply want to preserve your rights, make sure you hire the right lawyers, to ensure your final wishes will be met when devising your will.