Death tends to bring out the worse in people, and that may be true with your survivors. It may arise with sibling rivalry, or perhaps your current spouse never got along with one of your children. These tensions sow the seeds for a possible will contest in the courts, and if you want your wishes respected, an appraisal service in Maryland can play an important role. Here are four ways appraisals minimize the possibility of will contests after you die:
- Prevents procrastination: Failure to finish estate appraisal in a timely manner (or skipping the process entirely) places your assets in a precarious position if you meet with an untimely demise. When you hire professional services to move forward with estate appraisal, you have little choice but to follow through with your intentions. Securing information on your estate value encourages you to finish that will or living trust or proceed with your downsizing plans. You may decide to transfer assets early once you know their value and decide to reduce or eliminate the taxable value of your estate. This also shows careful planning in your decisions, which gives your survivors less legal ground to challenge your will.
- Advances transparency: Will contests often arise because a party believes you are hiding assets or misrepresenting the value of your property. An appraisal of real estate and personal property removes all that doubt. It also encourages you to discuss why you made the decisions you did in your estate plan. You may decide to exclude a child who refuses rehabilitation for drug problems, or transfer assets like cars to family members who need reliable transportation rather than just liquidate them and distribute the cash. Making this known before you die and explaining your reasons often reduces resentment and helps people realize you are serious.
- Allows for informed decision-making: After an appraisal, you and your attorney may realize that other legal options are more appropriate than a will. If your estate falls into taxable range, a trust will reduce that possibility. Likewise, if you find investments grew and you fear a family member squandering them, putting them in a lifetime trust that pays that individual a monthly income protects them from themselves. The advantage of trusts is that they are more difficult to challenge. An appraisal helps you determine if that is an appropriate option for your circumstances.
- Encourages changes: Even if you already have a will or trust, an appraisal is a useful tool. Many people forgo updating their estate plans when their circumstances change, and that encourages will contests even in low-conflict families. If your real estate, business or classic car collection ends up being worth more than expected, you must review your estate plan and make necessary changes. So, if you did not order an appraisal with your original estate plan, we suggest you do that now and make sure your plans are adequate.
Jane Campbell-Chambliss & Associates, LLC is an appraisal service in Maryland available to clients throughout the state. If you are estate appraisal or downsizing, contact us today to secure a fair value on your property.