A Probate & Will Contest Attorney • Estate & Trust Litigation • Anaheim Hills, CA
Mitigate the Risk of Your Estate Being Subject to a Will Contest
A wealthy Chinese businessman passed away leaving an estate worth more than a billion dollars to a charitable foundation resulting in his two adult sons challenging the will.
Yu Pengnian, a 93-year-old real estate executive in Hong Kong, recently died leaving an estate estimated to be worth more than $1.55 billion. He was one of China’s biggest philanthropists and continued his life-long support to charity by leaving the bulk of his estate to a charitable foundation.
With the exception of the contents of two safes left to his grandsons, his will directed all of his assets be distributed to the Yu-pang Lin charitable foundation. He directed that one of his grandsons be appointed executor. His left nothing in his will to his two adult sons. Each of his two adult sons subsequently filed what is the equivalent of a will contest challenging the validity of the will.
With the current upward trend in philanthropic giving upon death, it is possible there will be many similar will contests in the coming decades. When the extremely wealthy pledge to leave a significant portion of or all of their estates to charity upon death, being presented with a will contest by family members who are not always pleased with the charitable distribution should come as no surprise
A will with a no-contest clause provides heirs with the incentive not file will contest.
Although nothing can be done to eliminate the risk of a will contest, you can mitigate the risk. In Yu Pengnian’s case he may have made an avoidable mistake that virtually invited his sons to file a will contest. When he left all of his money to charity and nothing to his sons, his sons had nothing to lose by contesting the will. If there was a no-contest clause in the will, his sons would lose all of their inheritance by contesting the will and receive nothing – unless they prevailed on the will contest. The risk of losing a guaranteed inheritance by contesting a will with a will contest clause in it – and losing, oftentimes provides a sufficient incentive not to contest the will. In Yu Pengnian’s case, he may have avoided the will contests by leaving something of value to his sons and including a no-contest clause in his will.
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Attorney Priscilla A. Madrid, founder of Madrid Law Group is an estate planning attorney with 23 years of experience and a Legal Masters Degree in Estate Planning and Elder Law. If you are looking for an attorney with the background and experience to help you with your estate plan or provide efficient and effective representation in will or trust litigation, please contact us to schedule your complementary consultation.