Avoiding Disputes Among Heirs

Disputes among heirs are becoming more common in recent years. Maybe people are becoming more dependent on expected inheritances. Maybe tensions within families are just becoming more common. Who knows. No matter the reason, there are some steps you can taken while you’re alive to avoid disputes after you’re gone.

Communication: Start talking about your estate and your will. You don’t need to go into much depth about it, but you need to notify beneficiaries , at least in a broad manner, what they can expect from your estate. If there are some items that are “spoken for” or that one particular beneficiary has a connection with, make sure that is well known.

Avoid Self-Dealing: If you sense that there will be a dispute between your children as to who gets what, don’t name any of them as your executor. If you do, you’re asking for a fight. Allow an objective, neutral third-party to be your executor and distribute your assets as they see is fair.

Equal is Not Always Fair:  The common method of distributing assets equally among your surviving children may not be the most equitable options in your childrens’ eyes. If one of them has taken care of you in your time of need, it may not be the best idea to give them the same share as the children who didn’t help.

Set Out Who Gets What:  Making specific bequests can prevent a feud from arising regarding specific items of sentimental value. By setting out who gets what, you can potentially avoid the “Mom said she wanted me to have it” argument.

Above all else, be clear in your intentions and make sure you have an enforceable estate plan. When people are made about their inheritance, the first thing they’ll do is challenge the validity of the will.

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