Estate Planning Without Family Conflict

On behalf of Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C.

When parents assemble their estate plan, they often overlook the agreeability of their heirs. Though most siblings love and care for each other, grief impacts everyone differently. Some siblings may feel slighted by their inheritance and make a claim against the estate.

Legal battles between siblings can tear a family apart. Parents who want to help their family get through this time of mourning together will take care to draft their estate plan with the family in mind. How can one do that?

Transparent estate planning in 3 steps

Following these steps below will create a situation where parents can answer questions about an estate and take feedback. This process allows heirs to voice their concerns and opinions. Those who want to involve the family in the estate planning process can follow these steps:

  1. Hire a lawyer: The best estate plans come from knowledgeable lawyers. To find a local lawyer experienced with family law, parents can reach out to financial advisors or accountants for recommendations.
  2. Assemble a financial overview: A financial overview lists all property and assets (financial and non-financial) of the estate and their intended beneficiaries. The overview will detail contact information for professionals familiar with the estate and login information for online bank accounts and insurance sites.
  3. Schedule a family meeting: Parents can communicate this information to their heirs through a family meeting. The heirs can meet the estate executor and ask questions about family heirlooms or desired property. Parents can also explain any decisions made for the estate, address liabilities and potentially adjust the terms.

Consult with an attorney for additional information

When heirs fight, the family suffers. Claims against an estate can drag asset distribution through probate, delaying resolution and causing more family strife. Those parents looking to draft a will can reach out to a local attorney familiar with estate planning. A lawyer can serve as the estate executor, draft legal documents and work with probate courts to distribute assets.