Estate planning lets you plan for the future of you and your family. But many disputes can arise after the time of death when family members are left to process an estate.
Leaving assets to loved ones can lead to conflicts over real estate property, businesses, and other assets. This is made worse when individuals fail to outline how their assets will be divided and distributed among beneficiaries.
But disputes still happen even when there’s a will or trust in place. The following will help you minimize disagreements among family members after you’re gone.
Common Challenges in Estate Planning
There are many reasons why family members clash over a loved one’s estate. Some family members need more financial assistance, making them more dependent on the assets you leave behind.
This can lead to issues related to shared assets. Leaving a home to multiple recipients can increase the risk of having one person wanting to keep the home while another may want to sell it for income.
Your estate plan can include instructions dictating how a property can be sold (or not) according to your wishes.
Having multiple trustees to manage your estate’s assets can also be problematic. Any disagreements between the individuals will lead to complications that could result in delays when distributing your assets.
Blended families result from divorces and remarriages. This creates complex family structures that make it hard to determine who should receive what.
Your estate plan should be updated over time to ensure that changes in your family are reflected in the manner in which assets are distributed after you’re gone.
Can a Will or Trust Prevent Family Disputes?
A will lets you outline how your estate will be handled at the time of your death. It’s also used by court judges during the probate process. It allows interested parties to establish how assets will be distributed.
But a will can still leave your estate vulnerable to disputes among family members. The probate process can be costly and lead to unwanted delays.
A revocable trust allows you to protect your assets during your lifetime while planning for their distribution in the future. But the biggest benefit of using a trust is that its assets don’t have to go through the probate process.
This reduces the likelihood of any disputes related to your estate. A trustee is appointed by you to oversee your assets at the time of your death. A well-drafted trust includes all of the information needed to prevent confusion and disagreements among loved ones.
Consulting with an estate planning attorney will help you determine the best option for your needs.
Family disputes can also occur around the healthcare of an individual. This is especially important in cases where a family member is unable to make important decisions related to long-term care.
A will makes it easy for you to establish how you’ll be cared for and who will be responsible for health-related decisions when you’re no longer able to due to poor health or cognitive decline.
In some states, spouses don’t automatically receive the legal right to make healthcare decisions when a person becomes incapacitated.
A living will that names the person responsible for these decisions ensures that family members understand your preferences related to your long-term care.
There are many issues that cause family members to disagree on the estate of a loved one. Using estate planning strategies that minimize these disputes gives you peace of mind for the future.
More importantly, you’ll ensure that your beneficiaries receive the assets that are rightfully theirs and in the manner that makes financial sense.