5 Tips For Reducing Family Disputes Over Your Estate

Sep 26, 2023 | Estate Planning

Taking the time to create an estate plan is an incredibly necessary and worthwhile step to take, not only to ensure your legacy and lifetime wealth are protected but also to save your family an immense amount of stress and legal difficulties following your passing. With no estate plan, you won’t have a say in how your property and other assets are divided and distributed, and you’ve worked too hard to leave your estate in limbo within the court system. You should seek the services of an experienced estate planning attorney who can craft a plan that meets your specific goals and includes components such as a will, trust, guardianship directive, healthcare directive, power of attorney, and more. 

There is a possibility that your estate plan could cause internal disagreements within your family. Some loved ones may have conflicting interests or believe that they are entitled to more. No matter what, you shouldn’t let the fear of potential disputes keep you from building your estate plan. In this blog, we’ll disclose five tips for reducing contention within your family over your estate. 

  1. Communicate As Openly And Honestly With Your Loved Ones As You Can Ahead Of Time. 

Much of the resentment and tension that an individual feels after discovering that they’ve been disinherited, or will inherit less than they anticipated, comes from shock. With you no longer there for them to take out their anger on, they may choose to find another person to target their bitterness toward. For example, if you have chosen not to leave any money or possessions to one of your children, they may go after one of their siblings – especially if they were not disinherited. This kind of conflict can tear a family apart and take years to resolve, if it gets resolved at all. You likely do not want this to be the fate of your family, so taking the time and initiative to have an open, honest conversation with them ahead of time could go a long way. While this conversation may be uncomfortable and there is no guarantee that it will completely eliminate any bitter feelings your loved one has toward you, they may understand where you’re coming from a little better once you’ve explained your reasoning. 

  1. Take Careful Consideration When Choosing Your Estate Executor Or Trustee.

Your estate executor or trustee will play a huge role in handling the administration of your estate. In order to ensure that any potential conflict will be handled effectively and reduce the risk that it will be exacerbated, you need to choose someone who is ready and willing to follow through with your wishes, no matter what. You’ll want to pick a person that you trust inherently, or perhaps even choose two people who would work well as a team (checks and balances). For example, you may want to name all of your children as executors and trustees because they are all honest and trustworthy. However, if they are not up to the challenges that may bring about a legal battle, you should probably avoid naming them. If you are feeling especially conflicted over who to choose for these roles, express your thoughts to your estate planning attorney and consult with them on how to make the right decision. 

  1. Consider Your Family’s Unique Characteristics.

No one knows your family better than you do, and that’s why you are the best person for the job of deciding which of your loved ones inherits your money and possessions. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and it would be wise to consider them as you make decisions on how your assets will be divided. For example, if someone doesn’t manage their money well or possibly even struggles with a gambling addiction, it is probably not a good idea to leave them a large sum of money. On the other hand, you might have a family member who feels very strongly toward a certain family heirloom and would be grateful to inherit it after you pass. Regardless, the point is to put thought into the people you name in your will and trust, as well as what portion of your estate they will inherit. 

  1. Be Sure To Review And Update Your Plan Frequently.

An estate plan is not something you should do once and forget about forever. As your family dynamics, personal wishes, and finances can always change, it is advisable that you review your estate plan at least every 3-5 years to ensure that it is still relevant and effective. For example, if you have had a falling out with a close relative who you planned to leave money or property to, you’ll likely want to revise it to reflect the change in your relationship. You could also have a new addition to your family, such as a child, grandchild, niece or nephew that you would like to include in your will and trust. This can help to minimize any potential family conflict from arising before or after you’re gone.

  1. Use Your Estate Planning Attorney As A Source Of Knowledge And Guidance. 

It cannot be overstated how valuable the advice of your estate planning attorney can be. While you only have the experience of planning your own estate, they have the experience of the hundreds – or possibly even thousands – of clients they served before you. They have likely worked with every type of individual, couple, and family, and are able to anticipate where conflict may arise and utilize strategies to help prevent it from forming. Your estate planning attorney is not only there to provide quality legal representation and service, but also emotional support and trustworthy guidance. 

Daly Law Offices Is Committed To Helping Clients Reach Their Estate Planning Goals

If one of your goals is to minimize conflict within your family from arising over your estate, our lead attorney, Joshua N. Daly can put you in the best position to accomplish that. You can’t please everyone – not in life, nor in death. However, there are certain measures we can take as we help you navigate estate planning to get you as close to reaching this goal as possible. Call today to schedule your free consultation and learn more!

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