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How Can Estate Planning Help You Minimize Family Conflicts?

Personal Injury Lawsuits and Opening an Estate

Families fight for various reasons, and some fights can be immediately resolved by talking about it the next day. But other arguments take longer to fix, especially when people fight over assets in a parent’s or relative’s estate. This is a problem that millions of people will have to deal with in the coming years, as it is estimated that $30 trillion will be inherited in the next 30 years. As a result, it’s likely that a significant number of children and grandchildren will be fighting over what they think is their fair share of a loved one’s assets.

Conflicts over a parent’s estate can result in family estrangement, trauma, isolation, anxiety, and depression. This is why estate planning should be a priority, in order to prevent arguments and keep family ties strong. With the help of an estate planning attorney, communicating your wishes clearly can reduce the chances of conflict among your loved ones. Here’s how estate planning can help minimize family disagreements.

Reasons Behind Family Conflicts over Assets

Most people think that the only reason why families fight over assets in an estate is because they just want access to money or certain properties. However, there are other reasons why people fight over inheritance. One of them is the value of assets at stake. Research shows that families are more likely to go to court if the assets are substantial, and are therefore thought to be worth fighting for. Another reason is sibling rivalry, and conflicts may arise due to perceived unfairness, or unequal distribution of assets among siblings. Long-term resentment or jealousy among siblings also means that some people will take this opportunity to settle old scores.

Some conflicts also arise due to undue influence from spouses, in-laws, or other people seeking to benefit financially. Complicated family dynamics may also cause discord– think of an ex-spouse suddenly wanting to get involved, or people claiming to be the children of the deceased showing up and demanding their share of the estate. All of these, among other reasons, may cause things to escalate quickly. Without a properly executed estate plan, things can go south, and as time goes on, family fights may be harder to resolve than ever before.

Retain an Estate Lawyer to Avoid Family Conflicts

Relationships can change over time, and there’s always a chance that even the closest and most reasonable family members can have a falling out over money, houses, businesses, stocks, and other assets in an estate. So, if you want to prevent your loved ones from fighting over your assets, you need to retain an estate lawyer as early as you can. With proper guidance from your estate attorney, you can help alleviate tensions, maintain harmony among your loved ones, and ensure that they won’t fight over your possessions after you pass away. Here are some ways that an estate lawyer can help you prevent family conflicts.

Drafting a Will

One of the most important things to accomplish when creating an estate plan is drafting a will. Without one, a probate court will make the final decision on how to divide your estate according to the laws of your state. With no will in place, this means that your spouse will take your entire estate, or it will be divided between your spouse and child. If you are unmarried or your spouse is not surviving, then your child will take your entire estate. For those without a legal spouse or children, their estate will automatically go to their parents and leave out siblings or a domestic partner.

Failing to draft a will is a surefire way to create conflicts within the family since there is a big risk that your assets will be bequeathed to only one person or a few individuals as stated by the law. As such, it’s imperative to do it as soon as possible with help from your probate attorney. Be specific so that everyone will understand your instructions regarding your assets. List which asset each person is to receive to avoid misunderstandings.

Creating a Living Trust

Apart from leaving detailed instructions on which assets will go to certain individuals, there are other things that you should take into consideration when estate planning to avoid family conflicts. For instance, if you become suddenly incapacitated due to an illness or an accident, who will make decisions on your behalf regarding your care and assets? If you pass away, who will care for your minor children? And in the event of your death or incapacitation, who will be in charge of running or managing your business so that it will continue to grow and thrive?

This is why, apart from drafting a will, creating a living trust (with the help of an experienced trust attorney) should be high on your list of priorities. With it, you can designate a trustee to manage your assets and make arrangements for your care according to your wishes. Although you can certainly designate a family member or relative to be your trustee, this has the potential to create resentment and distrust among your loved ones. Your attorney can be a good option if you’d rather not have family members assume this highly important role.

Creating a living trust also ensures that you have more control over your estate before and after your death. With it, you can appoint competent and willing guardians for your minor children, preventing squabbles in your family as some people may not want the responsibility of looking after your kids. Moreover, as some of your loved ones may be critical of the spending habits of other family members, you can use a living trust to control the amount of money being released to certain individuals to make sure that they won’t burn through their inheritance in a short period of time.

Family quarrels over assets are never pleasant. To prevent conflicts from arising, consult an expert from Hays Firm to walk you through the entire estate planning process. Being prepared as early as possible can help to prevent fights from developing, and ensure that your family stays close and loving for a long time.