Family disputes are one of the big concerns estate planners have to deal with in coming up with a plan to works for their clients. The way in which attorneys plan for potential disputes depends not only on the state of their client’s residence, but also the value and types of assets, and the number of heirs or beneficiaries.
Communication is probably the best way to minimize potential disputes in probate court. This means, essentially, letting your family know what your plans are in terms of distributing your assets at your death. Even if family doesn’t agree with the decision, telling them in advance gives them time to deal with that decision emotionally. Hearing the reasons behind the decision can be helpful too.
Of course, communication is great but it will not be able to prevent disputes in all situations, particularly in some families. One common reason for such disputes is unequal division of assets. Parents may distribute assets unequally because one child has problems dealing with money, or received their inheritance in advance in the form of a gift.
One possibility for minimizing disputes is to include a “no content” clause in one’s Will, in order to discourage challenges. These aren’t foolproof, but worth discussing with one’s attorney.
In cases where a family member is disinherited, it is important to put language in one’s Will specifying the intent to disinherit.
In the end, there is no sure-fire way to prevent family disputes over inheritance, only strategies that minimize the possibility. These strategies should not be minimized, though, as they can go a long way in keeping the family peace.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “An Estate Plan to Prevent Sibling Disputes,” Christine Lee, May 14, 2013.
Source: Source: The Wall Street Journal, “An Estate Plan to Prevent Sibling Disputes,” Christine Lee, May 14, 2013.