Proper Estate Planning Can Help Prevent Family Disputes

family dispute, fighting, Naperville estate planning lawyerIf you were to ask your children or other family members what you should do about dividing your assets and property upon your death, you would likely get a variety of answers. Some may suggest that you just divide it equally—without offering ways to determine what “equal” means—while others may remind you that you can make any arrangements that you want since it is your property. Of course, chances are also good that the same family members telling you to do whatever you think is best could be the same ones who are offended when they discover that their inheritance is not what they expected it would be. Fortunately, a Naperville estate planning lawyer can offer a great deal of insight into planning for the future, and, based on previous experience, can even provide advice on how to prepare your family for what is ahead.

Determine Your Priorities

Those who remind you that you have the right to do with your estate what you wish are exactly correct. You certainly have that right. However, it is important to consider how dividing your assets could impact your family and loved ones over the long term. You may decide that you do not really care if family members are upset or offended by your choices, since you will be gone, and that too is your right. For many people, the specific property and assets that each heir receives is far less important than maintaining stable, trusting family relationships. Although it is not true in every situation, you may have the power with your estate planning decisions to positively or negatively affect your surviving family. Use it wisely.

Give Appropriate Consideration

As you develop your will, living trust, or whatever planning instruments you and your attorney determine to be appropriate, be sure not to rush through the process just to get it done. You will need to carefully choose an executor for your will, as well as trustees, and powers of attorney, should you require their services. These individuals must be selected with care to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest, either professional—such as an attorney serving as your executor who also represents one of your beneficiaries—or personal. You will also need to be certain that your heirs and beneficiaries have reason to trust those selected to these roles, to help ensure a smoother process.

Similarly, you should also give careful thought to the specific allocation of your assets to each of your beneficiaries. While it is reasonable to divide your estate equally among your children—and often advisable to prevent family discord—unless your plan is for your property to be sold and the proceeds divided, it may be difficult to decide what equal looks like. For example, you may leave $20,000 in cash to one child and a $20,000 car to another. As far as value, those are equal, but they may not seem equal to your children depending on their needs, situation, or even sentimental value attached to the car.

Do Not Keep Secrets from Your Family

Of course, discussing issues that recognize your own mortality is not easy, and your family may be uncomfortable with it too. However, by having a series of conversations about your estate planning during the process will prevent your heirs from being taken by surprise when your will is executed after your death. Be open about your plans, explain your choices, and allow your family to ask questions. Based on these discussions, you may even go back an amend your will or trust documents, helping to promote family unity for years to come.

For more information about wills, trusts, or powers of attorney, contact an experienced Naperville estate planning attorney at the Gierach Law Firm. We are committed to helping individuals and families prepare for the future, while remaining sensitive to the difficulties of the process. Call 630-756-1160 to schedule an introductory consultation today.

 

Sources:

Mondaq

Wells Fargo