Most people create a will with the idea that once they pass away, decisions regarding the distribution of their estate will have already been made, therefore, their wishes will be followed and they can have peace of mind.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Unless your estate planning documents: wills, trusts, etc…are drawn up properly (aka: NOT PRINTED OFF THE INTERNET) you may run into family battles and court litigation over who gets what. A carefully prepared and executed will is the ultimate shield to a disgruntled heir.

Tips to Prevent Post-Death Litigation & Create a Rock-Solid Will

  • All conversations between the will maker and the attorney should be recorded (notes of conversations, cover letters, drafts, emails, phone conversations, etc.);
  • Clearly recognize special relationships in documents naming beneficiaries: step children, domestic partners, long time friends, and other non-heirs with close relationships;
  • If a legal heir is “disinherited” the will should state the name and relationship of each disinherited heir and the intent of the will-maker to “disinherit” each;
  • Keep a copy of the physician’s report of the will maker’s physical and mental condition on the day the will was signed;
  • Keep a list of everyone attending the signing ceremony and everyone who saw the will maker that day;
  • Life-long friends, not strangers, should witness the signing of all estate planning documents;
  • Execution of wills and trusts should be witnessed by more than the number of witnesses required by law (2);
  • Keep copies of all prior wills created.

The best advice is to be completely candid in your estate planning documents. Secrets are never a good thing within a family. If you expect family members to be disappointed, inform everyone of the changes in your estate planning documents in writing. Not every estate can be administered seamlessly, a good elder law attorney will make sure that all the tips I listed above are followed. So call an experienced estate planning attorney to help you navigate through the legal jargon and avoid disputes.


Attorney Kyle Fahey handled our matter with skill and professionalism, and was always responsive. 10/10, would work with him and the firm again.

–Jon T.

The peace of mind that Peck Ricthey's office has given me is worth every penny. The services they provided me and my family in an emergency medical situation is beyond outstanding. Last minute notice, Peter Brady and team were compassionate, understanding and most importantly efficient and got the job done. Look no further if you have any needs that this office can provide for you. Definitely in good hands! Thank you, a thousand times over for all of your help.

–Christine K.

Very responsive and knowledgeable at handling our brother’s estate. Would definitely recommend!

–Ralph C.

I solicited Peck Ritchey, LLC for assistance with a living trust for which I became the beneficiary. I needed assistance with understanding the details of how it all worked. However, I was especially concerned because there were threats of allegations made by family members and a lawsuit was filed against me. I needed a solid professional who had my best interests in mind. Peter Brady took my case and he managed it flawlessly. He explained everything in a way I could understand, he knew the law inside and out, he was always available to answer questions, and even offer support when things seemed like they could become extremely problematic. In addition to this, he had a plan. He navigated the course as if he already knew the next move by the opposing attorney. He made me feel like everything was in control and that’s because he knew exactly what he was doing and he consulted with me about everything. We ended up settling out of court and ultimately the court officially dismissed the lawsuit. I honestly believe if it wasn’t for Peter and his expertise this could have gone in an entirely different direction. Peter did a stellar job and I couldn’t be more pleased and impressed with his performance.

–John T.

Tim Ritchey is as smart, honest, and genuine as they come. He truly puts helping people above making money. If you have a need, don’t hesitate to hire him.

–Jay T.

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