How To Avoid Your Kids Fighting Over Your Estate
Once you’re gone, you’re not going to care what happens to your assets — but your family will. Many adult children feel entitled to a share of their parents’ estates. So what do you think will happen if your estate plan favors one person or you decide to leave a child out of your will or trust together?
There will be some sort of dispute for sure. Fights over estates are not uncommon. You can technically do whatever you want with your estate, and fairness is not a requirement. You can leave everything to one person or distribute your assets equally among a dozen people.
However, when one heir senses unfairness, there will likely be some conflict due to greed and resentment. This conflict can lead to a lawsuit that can eat up all the assets in the estate. This is not the ideal outcome.
Therefore, when creating an estate plan, you should make sure everyone knows what to expect so that there aren’t any surprises. The best way to go about this is through good communication. Here’s how to discuss your estate plan with your family.
Have a Family Meeting
Make sure your estate plans are transparent. You can do this by having a family meeting, preferably with a mediator present in case things get ugly. You may want to avoid conflict and instead keep everything a secret, but why invite conflict? By having a family meeting before you die, you can let everyone know what to expect. You can discuss why you created your estate plan the way you did so that there are no surprises and less opportunity for conflict once you pass.
Don’t beat around the bush. Be upfront about why you did things the way you did. If you left your son out of the will because he never visited you in the past decade, say so. If you changed your mind about leaving your truck to your grandson, make this known. Be honest about your feelings. If an heir knows that you are angry with them about something, then they’ll be less able to prove that you unintentionally left them out of your will.
Show Proof of Mental Stability
Many heirs will try to prove that their loved one was mentally unstable and therefore the terms of the will or trust should not be enforced. You can disprove this by obtaining proof of mental capacity. You might want to obtain two or more written statements from doctors who can verify that you have the mental capacity to execute legal documents. Having proof will make it harder for an heir to prove that you were incapacitated.
Seek Legal Help
Preparing for your death is a lot of work. Make things easier by discussing everything with your heirs ahead of time. This will help avoid surprises.
Fort Lauderdale probate litigation lawyer Edward J. Jennings, P.A. can help you with wills, trusts, and other elements of estate planning. To schedule a consultation, call 954-764-4330 or fill out the online form.