As one who largely makes his living assisting fiduciaries and beneficiaries in disputes arising out of the contested disposition of a deceased person's money and property, it is probably not in my personal economic interest to dispense advice on how to avoid estate, trust, probate & inheritance litigation. After all, such litigation is how I pay the bills and put food on the table.
However, first and foremost as an attorney I am in the business of trying to help people with their legal problems. I am therefore reminded of what President Abraham Lincoln, a former lawyer himself, once said: "Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser -- in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough."
With that admonition in mind, in researching an issue lately I came across the following linked article written by a Texas lawyer and published a few years ago by the American Bar Association: "A Message To Clients: Avoiding Probate Court Litigation." It contains a good summary of situations which are susceptible to these types of disputes (dysfunctional families, subsequent marriages, sloppy or stale estate planning, etc.). It also includes solid suggestions for proactively preventing such disputes from arising in the first place.
Matt House can be contacted by telephone at 501-372-6555, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by facsimile at 501-372-6333, or by regular mail at James, House & Downing, P.A., Post Office Box 3585, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203.