Using Your Estate Plan to Prevent Sibling Estrangement

sibling, Naperville estate planning attorneyIt is tragically common for children of any age to experience serious problems following the death of a parent. What may have begun as typical sibling rivalry and relatively minor annoyances may develop into an irreparable chasm between brothers and sisters when their mother or father is no longer there to mediate. In some cases, sibling estrangement is inevitable, as years of competition and hurt feelings may eventually lead to a permanent rift. In other situations, however, conscientious estate planning by the parent can help prevent more serious problems from developing.

If you have noticed that your children struggle to get along with each other at times, an experienced estate planning attorney can help you put together a plan designed to reduce friction and promote healthy relationships.

Discuss Certain Elements of Your Plan in Advance

Jealousy is one the most common factors between estranged siblings, but communication can often alleviate such feelings before they become problematic. Before you formalize your estate plan, sit down with your children and have a frank discussion about the future. Your children are not responsible for making your estate planning decisions, but their input is very valuable in developing a plan that will foster ongoing relationships when you are gone.

Find out which, if any, of your children are willing or feel capable of serving in fiduciary roles, such as executor, trustee, or power of attorney. If possible, try to ascertain if other family members are okay with allowing a particular individual to assume certain responsibilities. This is not to say that you will be able to make everyone happy, but at least you will the information to make responsible decisions.

The Plan Itself

As you draft your will, the terms of any trusts, and other provisions in your estate plan, it is important to base your decisions on solid reasoning. Be aware that choices you make without logical justification may cause certain family members to feel slighted and may lead to destructive infighting.

Once you have developed your plan, have another discussion with your children. This time, you can explain the choices you have made and why you have made them. Ideally, an open conversation will give your children the opportunity to express their concerns and feelings while you are still available to hear and address them.  When such matters are handled in a direct, open fashion, there are likely to be fewer accusations of favoritism or allegations of a sibling taking advantage of the situation down the road.

Let Our Attorneys Help

You may not be able to prevent all issues between your children after your death, but proper estate planning can help ease their burden. To learn more about the process, contact an experienced Naperville estate planning attorney. Call 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation at The Gierach Law Firm today.

 

Sources:

Psychology Today

New York Times

Marcia Sirota, M.D.