I’m worried someone will make an illegitimate claim to my estate. How can I avoid this?

The good news is we live in America, the land of freedom and opportunity. The bad news is we live in America, the land of freedom of opportunity. Here’s what I mean by that. You can never with 100% certainty prevent somebody from making a claim in the future, whether it’s well-founded or not, but here’s what you can do to take control of the situation and minimize the likelihood of that happening.

Number one, make sure that yo have clearly documented your wishes in writing in a legally binding document. Whether it’s a living trust with pour-over will or a last will and testament, preferably drafted by an attorney, make sure you have that done. You should also have some other foundational documents that have been properly executed, such as a power of attorney, healthcare surrogate, and a living will.

Secondly, make sure that these documents are in a secure location, whether it’s in a safe deposit box – not always the best place to keep a last will and testament, but that is one option – or perhaps a locked safe in your house, or maybe at your attorney’s office. The thing that you want to prevent against is some third-party whom you don’t have any trust in getting a hold of your legal documents.

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