Saturday, February 24, 2007
Judith G. McMullen (Professor of Law, Marquette University) has recently published her article entitled Keeping Peace in the Family While You Are Resting in Peace: Making Sense of and Preventing Will Contests, 8 Marq. Elder's Advisor 61 (2006).
Prof. McMullen describes her article as follows:
The first section [of my article] describes some of the common legal challenges used to prevent the enforcement of specific will provisions or to contest the will's admission to probate. The article then discusses the overarching issue of why surviving family members fight about property after the death of a loved one. Here, the article describes the legal concept of freedom of testation and contrasts a testator's view towards property ownership and disposal with the views of potential family recipients. This section also discusses the implicit preference that the law gives to presumptive heirs - a preference that probably bolsters the resolve of disappointed heirs to engage in will challenges. In the final section, this article describes specific steps that typically are recommended for use by testators to reduce the likelihood of will challenges, and it concludes by asking clients and their lawyers to mull over the long-term emotional and social repercussions of proposed estate plans.