Many elderly parents who are creating their estate plans make it a goal to avoid estate disputes or probate disputes among their heirs and beneficiaries. They may have heard stories of other families getting embattled in expensive disputes that last for months or even years. Their main goal, as a result, is to try to avoid that outcome so that all of their heirs are on good terms when they get their inheritance.
This can be hard to do, though, especially without foreplaning. Below are three tips that may help significantly for those who are estate planning with this aim in mind.
Make a comprehensive inventory of all assets
Without an inventory, heirs may disagree about how many assets existed. This can easily cause a dispute when someone claims that a sentimental asset is “missing,” insinuating that another heir took it. This could also cause a dispute if one heir believes they were supposed to get a much larger inheritance than actually did, from a financial perspective. They may think that someone else is trying to defraud them, but an inventory of the assets can show that they did get what their parents intended them to have.
Have a meeting with all family members
Another tactic that can be beneficial is simply to have a family meeting to discuss the estate plan. A lot of estate disputes happen because heirs have to work together to figure out what their parents would’ve wanted. They may disagree, and they may have no way to prove that their positions are well-founded. Having a family meeting gives everyone a transparent chance to ask questions and avoid any disputes between themselves later on due to a lack of clarity.
Promote communication between heirs
Additionally, it’s good just to promote communication between each person, telling them that this the ins and outs of the estate in question are not taboo subjects and they should talk about them freely. The estate executor should be someone who is open to having these conversations and who is willing to provide the information that everyone else needs. The more everyone knows about the situation, the less likely it is they will get involved in a serious dispute.
These three tips can certainly help with estate planning, but there are many more steps that parents should take when preparing to pass along their assets. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to better ensure that an estate plan is both comprehensive and enforceable.