Why Do Heirs Fight?
Unfortunately, family fights can become one ugly outcome of poor estate planning. Many clients believe that financial transfers are the key are to focus on. It turns out that for many people money is not the most important issue. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, personal keepsakes, family stories, and last wishes all take precedence over money. As a result, these areas should be carefully addressed within your estate planning.
Consider: it may be easy to divide $1,000 evenly among children, but how can you divide a picture, a musical instrument, or another memento?
Actions You Can Take Now
1) Be Transparent in the Present
While you have the opportunity, it is important to have conversations about your wishes and keepsakes. Parents can have these conversations both individually and as a group. Sorting out issues beforehand and being transparent can diffuse potential problems. You may want to consider having a family summit where you can address some of your wishes and concerns.
2) Be Specific
If your estate planning documents only provide broad guidelines (i.e. to my wife and kids) this may come back to bite you down the road. Detail specific items for specific people for specific reasons. Even supplying photos of items to avoid later confusion may be something to consider. One method, suggested by US Bank, is to allow each child to pick one item. If they both selected the same thing, they could flip a coin. If three children all picked the same thing they could draw names.
3) Put it in Someone Else’s Hands
For many clients, the initial instinct may be to put other family members in charge, as executor or trustee. This can create inadvertent issues if other members take issue with your choice. One solution may be to bring in a neutral third party who can carry out your estate planning wishes impartially. Organizations like the Arizona Fiduciaries Association can help you identify third-party options.
At Estrada-Legal, PC, we believe your family is your most important asset. Contact us at 602 635-7414 to discuss how we can best plan for you and your loved ones.