When a loved one becomes sick or dies, family feuds often erupt. Estate planning can prevent many family feuds.
Up-to-date estate planning documents
Up-to-date estate planning documents go a long way in making your intent clearer and reducing squabbles.
Communicate your estate planning goals and decisions
Let your loved ones know that you are doing estate planning. You may want to hold a family meeting at home or in your attorney’s office.
This is especially important in a blended family. Be sure that both your spouse and your children know that each will be provided for. This conversation will make a huge difference in your relationships during your lifetime and in their relationships after you are gone.
Be sure to explain why you chose Child A and not Child B to be your executor, trustee, or agent.
If you are making “unusual” estate planning choices such as giving unequal inheritances, explain why verbally and in writing.
Let your family know where your estate planning documents and important papers are kept and destroy any out of date documents and financial papers
Having several conflicting estate planning documents floating around could breed litigation.
Create a plan for the distribution of your tangible personal property
While financial assets are easy to divide, your personal property such as family pictures and family heirlooms are not. Consider creating a memorandum to gift specific items to appreciative family members and a lottery system for the remainder.
If you have a blended family, be careful to avoid disinheriting your children from your first marriage.
Jointly owned property OFTEN leads to an unintentional disinheritance. Use trust planning and trust ownership to protect your children.
Be careful about making your children wait until the death of your second spouse (non-parent) to receive their inheritances and about making your children the remainder beneficiary of any assets going to your spouse.
Use your estate planning to provide for each beneficiary separately and avoid family feuds.