Estate disputes can lead to legal tussles that are time consuming, gut-wrenching and expensive. The disputes are often sparked when an individual—who anticipated being named as a beneficiary in a will—discovers they’ve been left out. In an effort to head off these situations, I’ve compiled a Top 10 list of behaviors to avoid based on my experience handling more than 100 estate disputes.

Knowing these factors will hopefully help you advise clients on how to not only avoid being disinherited, but perhaps, more importantly, help ensure that they have deeper and more meaningful relationships with family and friends.

Top 10 behaviors to avoid are:

Neglecting to visit or to call a parent or relative. That’s far and away the most significant factor that leads to disinheritance. It is also the most significant factor in the minds of many jurors and judges when they evaluate whether the person executing a will and/or trust truly meant to disinherit a person, or whether he did so as a product of undue influence.

Pressuring a parent or relative by threatening not to visit unless they agree to do something. The target may give in at first, but that will likely embolden the threatening party to ask for more until the threatened individual reaches a breaking point and reacts by disinheriting the threatener.

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