Predictions for Estate Planning in 2018
April 25th, 2018
According to a recent article published by Private Wealth Online, this year is likely to bring an increase in estate litigation, a rise in disputes concerning arbitration clauses in wills and trusts, and an expansion in the scope and usage of no contest clauses in wills and trusts. There are a number of reasons for these trends, including the rapidly aging American population and the fact that more property is being passed down through inheritance than at any other time in history, thus giving rise to an increase in estate-related litigation.
The rising frequency of estate litigation also is a function of our increasingly litigious society in general. The answer for most problems that individuals encounter in society seems to be filing a lawsuit, whether it concerns an accident, a school-related dispute, or an unwanted action by the government. Plus, with the deterioration of family relationships, an inheritance often is the source of much discord.
The increasing usage of mandatory arbitration clauses in estate planning documents, as well as in all types of business and personal contracts, also has given rise to additional litigation. Unfortunately, these provisions are often counterproductive, in that they may protect fiduciaries who engage in misconduct and increase the financial and legal burdens on beneficiaries of the estate, who often are more financially disadvantaged than others involved in the litigation. Additionally, there are public policy concerns with mandatory arbitration clauses in terms of enforcement against beneficiaries who never had the chance to consent to them in the first place. This is also the case with no contest clauses, which have become dramatically broader. Whereas no contest clauses traditionally only pertained to direct contests to wills and trusts, they now often encompass other challenges to wills and trusts, such as beneficiary designations and claims of breach of fiduciary duty against a trustee or executor.
If you want to have a comprehensive plan in place for the future to protect yourself and your family, our Washington estate planning attorneys can guide you through every step of the process. We are here to answer your questions, both now and in the future, about all aspects of the estate planning process. At Legacy Law Center, we have represented the interests of countless individuals throughout the estate planning process. Contact our office and set up an appointment with one of our experienced elder law attorneys today.