Following up on my previous post, Gary Beyer, an estates and trusts law professor, has put together a list of the six most common scenarios in which wills get contested. They are:

  1. Disinheritance of close family members in favor of a distant relative, a friend, or a charity.
  2. Unequal treatment of children.
  3. Sudden or significant change in disposition plan.
  4. Imposition of excessive restrictions on bequests.
  5. Elderly or disabled testator.
  6. Unusual behavior of testator.

Of course, you may have perfectly legitimate reasons for wanting to treat your children unequally, or for wanting to give your money to a charity instead of family members. But if you decide to do something with your estate that is different from what your heirs might be expecting, you should recognize that you are increasing the likelihood of a will contest. There are steps you can take to discourage or defeat a challenge from an unhappy family member. An attorney specializing in estate planning will be able to walk you through your options.