When Wills Aren’t Enough to Solve Estate Planning Disputes

It’s a common occurrence. A person passes away and the terms of a will require that assets be evenly divided among family members. The deceased, however, forget to mention how personal assets should be divided. As a result, conflict arises among surviving loved ones about how these items should be divided. 


Even though wills are involved, families can still encounter strong emotions. This is because the estate planning process involves several highly emotional elements: life, death, and money. While it might not always be possible to avoid estate planning arguments, there are several strategies reviewed in this essay that can greatly reduce the risk of estate planning disputes.


# 1 – Clearly Express Your Wishes with Estate Planning Instruments


Even if families are on good terms and communicate openly with another, disputes still happen. Fortunately, proper estate planning instruments can reduce the risk of disagreements. First, people should create wills, which avoid having assets pass through state intestacy laws. These laws contain a fixed order regarding how estates are distributed. The terms of wills must accurately state a person’s wishes. Clearly written wills make surviving loved ones immune to estate planning disputes. This is because even if family members are unhappy with your estate plans, it can be nearly impossible to pursue legal action over the terms of a validly written estate planning instrument.


# 2 – Communicate Your Goals Clearly to Loved Ones


Many estate planning professionals have commented that family conflict is the primary threat to estate planning. Many family disputes occur due to a lack of communication. Sometimes, this takes the form of people inheriting much less than they expected to receive. It is also common for the promise of money to cause division among family members. One of the best ways to avoid inheritance disagreements is to conduct meetings with the loved ones impacted by the estate plan. You should also plan to meet with individuals whenever making additional changes to the will. This way there will be no surprises when your estate planning documents become effective.


# 3 – Consider if Uneven Amounts Are Worth It


One common situation that leads to estate planning disputes is when people decide to pass uneven portions to their loved ones. To avoid these conflicts, some professionals suggest leaving all children equal portions of an estate even if one child is in greater financial need. If a parent decides to leave one child a greater percentage than another child, it is important to share details about this plan before signing estate planning documents. By fully disclosing estate planning goals, loved ones will be able to directly question the estate plan and acknowledge any negative emotions that they are feeling due to these plans. If the person passes away or loses mental capacity, it might become necessary to contact the associated estate planner or estate planning lawyer. 


Speak with an Estate Planning Lawyer


Estate planning is highly emotional, but there are several strategies to reduce the chances of conflict. For assistance, contact Ettinger Estate Planning today to schedule a free case evaluation.

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