Livens & Reed, PLLC

Estate planning seeks to avoid conflict among the beneficiaries

Residents of Texas who choose to do estate planning are often concerned about whether their adult children will argue over the parents' choices in their wills for dividing the inheritance. One survey notes that over half of all Americans intend to leave an inheritance approaching an average of about $200,000. Good estate planning procedures and a close working relationship with one's estate planning attorney will likely establish a low risk of arguments among the children after the testator's death.

Experienced estate planning attorneys generally agree that the openness of communications between parents and their children about estate planning choices will go a long ways to diffuse anxiety or resentment. The best policy is for the parents to give the decisions and the rationale to the children, preferably even in a group family meeting. Where that is not possible, the parents should make strong efforts to discuss their plans personally with each child and obtain an understanding with each of them.

Making an equal division of all assets to the children in equal shares is generally the easiest way to avoid bickering or insecure feelings. However, that doesn't always reflect the extra devotion of some children who take care of their parents in later life, which is a valuable service to the parent. It may be that the parent wishes to compensate that child for his or her sacrifices.

One should go over the estate plan with a financial planner and an estate planning attorney to see what has to be done. This includes those who already have a plan but who have not reviewed it in several or many years. The old choices must be reviewed and updated where necessary. Furthermore, bequests in the will won't mean much if there are insufficient funds to cover them. The amounts and/or percentages should be carefully planned out with one's estate planning team in accordance with Texas law.

Source:, "Keeping the peace between adult children in estate planning", Nathaniel Sillin, Mar. 22, 2016

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