If you have multiple children, you are likely planning to include them as heirs in your will and other estate planning documents. While gifting your assets to your sons and daughters is a good thing, doing so smoothly may not be as straightforward as you would assume.
Most siblings put aside their differences and stop arguing once they reach adulthood. Unfortunately, however, old rivalries and hurt feelings can resurface when the grief of losing a parent is combined with the prospect of gaining an inheritance. Too often, siblings end up fighting over their parents’ estates in ways that can lead to fractured relationships and expensive litigation.
This might not end up being a problem for your own children, but there are steps you can take just to be safe. A recent article in Forbes suggests several tips for reducing friction around family inheritances.
It all starts with hiring the right estate planning attorney. Ideally, you’ll want to hire someone who also has experience with estate administration. These attorneys see and spend time with families who have just lost a loved one, and they have learned which estate provisions are likely to be harmful rather than helpful.
The next step is to create an estate plan that is as thorough and detailed as possible. You won’t be able to answer questions or clear up disagreements when it comes time to administer the estate, so you want to be sure that your instructions and intentions are crystal clear.
Finally, schedule a time to communicate with your chosen executor and your inheriting family members. These can be separate meetings, but both need to occur. Discuss all of your concerns with your executor and ensure that he or she fully understands the provisions of your will and how to locate all of your assets (including things like passwords to online accounts).
When you schedule your family meeting, make sure that all your children who will be inheriting are present. Carefully lay out what they can expect in terms of an inheritance (including financial assets, property and heirloom items). If you deviate from an even split between all siblings, provide an explanation for why you made this decision.
Also tell your family who your chosen executor will be and why you chose this person. The more transparency and communication you can foster now, the lower the chances that your heirs will have confusion and hurt feelings later on.
Now that you have a strategy in place, it’s time to make a plan. Contact our office to discuss your estate planning needs with us today.