Some people, by the time they reach their fifties, may have children from one or two previous marriages and a current spouse with children from a prior relationship. This makes it crucial to be specific when dictating your wishes in a will. Specificity is important in any case, but if your family arrangement is complex, there are more opportunities for a will to be contested in Missouri if it is vague.

An article in U.S. News and World Report points out that an unclear will can be a big problem if you have a family that includes children and stepchildren. A father, for instance, may believe that his wife will take care of his children if he should pass away. Instead of leaving assets to the children directly in the will, he decides to pass on his assets to her, figuring that she will leave his money to his children.

However, if the wife has children from a previous marriage, the wife may choose to give her own children bulk of the inheritance. The father has no control over how his wife will distribute the assets. This problem can crop up in any situation where a parent leaves assets to a loved one hoping that person will distribute it as the parent wishes. It can even invite litigation from the children of the deceased parent who believe they are being unjustly cut out of an inheritance.

Sitting down with your family to talk about your wishes for your estate can open up dialogue and decrease the odds that relatives will contest your will, but it does not guarantee that your family members will comply with your desires after you pass away. To make sure your assets reach your intended heirs, it is best to specifically list your heirs in the will and describe the assets or property you want them to receive.

This article is written for the educational benefit of the reader and is not to be interpreted as actionable legal advice.