Upon your passing, your will becomes a public document once it is probated. Probate is a formal legal process of your executor proving your will, being formally named executor, and accounting/distributing assets.
Because a Will is a public document upon probate, it is important to consider the possibility that someone may challenge your Will. The most legitimate challenges to your Will typically come from spouses or children.
In PA, you cannot disinherit your spouse completely unless he or she formally agrees. A spouse is always entitled to an “elective share” or 1/3 of the estate, even if he or she is disinherited in your will.
A child can be disinherited, but you must affirmatively disinherit him or her in your will.
Another factor that can make a Will challenge more successful is if you wrote the Will while you were incompetent, or while you were being unduly influenced by someone else.
A substitute for a Will is a living trust, which does not go through the probate process. However, a living trust, just like any person or entity, is still subject to challenge in court. However, by virtue of not being automatically public, a living trust discourages frivolous challenges.
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