As an estate planning and estate litigation attorney, I’ve seen my fair share of contested wills and family disputes over who gets what. In most cases, these estate plans often contain repeated themes and factors that may increase or decrease the likelihood of a family dispute.
Common Themes of Family Disputes
One common theme is whether or not the beneficiaries of the will get along. If not, this can lead the beneficiaries to engage in large disputes, simply because they can find a reason to. Another common theme is having an estate plan where an Executor or trustee fails to fulfill his duties. Estate planning disputes also arise when dealing with large sums of money. In most cases, a large sum of money causes more problems. No matter what your circumstances are, it is best to avoid or minimize family disputes. Thus, there are few things to consider when planning your estate if you want to minimize family disputes.
Creating a Proper Estate Plan When You Healthy
Without having a proper estate plan, there may be conflict and uncertainty between family members and loved ones about what you wanted to give them. As a result, confusion may arise over who gets certain estate or funds. In addition to having a proper estate plan, it’s essential to create a proper estate plan when you are healthy and of sound mind so that you are in the best circumstances to communicate your wishes. If you are ill, you might be concerned more about time rather than what gets put into your will. As a result, your heirs may receive less estate than they should or you might leave out important details that should be in your estate plan.
Communicate Your Plan with Your Beneficiaries and Children
It’s essential to communicate your estate plan with both your beneficiaries and children as it can help ease any future tensions. Take the time to explain your intentions and reasoning to your children so that they understand why your estate plan is set a certain way. This is especially important if different family members are receiving more benefits or estate than another family member. Although communicating is a personal choice, it can help minimize uncertainty or any misunderstanding.
Carefully Chose Your Executor and Trustee
Choosing an Executor and Trustee is a big decision. They must be able to represent your interests and terms of your trust while also being trustworthy. It is also important to consider the relationship between the beneficiaries, Executor, and the trustee. If the relationship is very disputable, it can lead to many disputes regarding your estate and cause unnecessary conflict.
Avoid Probate Using a Revocable Living Trust
In most cases, you can avoid your estate from the probate court with a revocable living trust. Even though the probate process does not bring on much controversy, it can easily initiate feuds between any heirs or beneficiaries. This liability can create a more complicated and expensive process for heirs and beneficiaries to claim your estate after your death.
Address the Distribution of Personal Property
The most common estate disputes involve tangible personal property. While bank accounts can be evenly divided, personal property such as jewelry or family heirlooms induce certain emotions among heirs. For example, who will get your grandmother’s antique engagement ring? Consequently, it’s best to discuss the expectations of your beneficiaries and to write down directions referenced in your trust.
Monitor and Update Your Estate Plan
Estate planning requires periodical review and updates based on your changing circumstances and changes in laws. This may include important life events such as getting married, having children, getting divorced, or a sudden death in the family. It’s also important to update any assets that may change over time. Through careful planning and monitoring, you can minimize estate planning disputes.
Seek Legal Advice From Professional Estate Planning Attorneys
Seeking legal advice from an experienced estate planning attorney is the best route to take. The problem with creating an estate plan yourself, is that do-it-yourself estate plans are often challenged because of their ambiguity or choice of words. An experienced estate planning attorney can ensure that the estate plan reflections your intentions and that it is unduly influenced by a beneficiary or trustee. Contact Attorney Inna Fershteyn for expert estate planning estate litigation. Do not hesitate to call us for any further questions at (718)-333-2394.