Every family has experienced its share of arguments and disagreements. However, some family members may constantly be at odds with one another. While volatile situations at family gatherings can be dealt with, things can become a lot messier when family members start arguing over a loved one’s estate.
When you’re crafting your estate plan, you can take certain steps to help reduce the chance of conflict erupting in your wake.
Ensure your wishes are clear
A lot of estate and probate litigation centers around ambiguity in a will. It’s essential that you make your estate plan as clear and as comprehensive as possible. Leave no uncertain terms about what it is you want to happen. Ensure you name a trusted individual to make decisions on your behalf. You should also revisit your estate plan every few years and make any necessary updates as the relationships in your family shift. If there’s someone who you can confide in, let them know your reasons for why your estate plan is set up the way it is. This can help provide some much-needed context should a dispute arise.
Think about a no-contest clause
A no-contest clause prevents people from challenging your estate plan without having just cause. This is especially important if you believe a beneficiary is likely to be unhappy with their share of your estate. Keep in mind that state law governs when and how courts are likely to enforce these clauses. The use of proper language is a must.
Look outside of your family
Seeking advice from an outside party regarding legal and financial matters can be of great benefit. An outside perspective can enable you to see things you may have overlooked. When naming a health care or financial power of attorney, keep in mind that your options are not limited to your family members. If you trust someone else to better act in your best interests, discuss your wishes with them. If they are agreeable, you can name them as your decision-maker should you ever become incapacitated.
In some families, conflict is simply unavoidable. However, by taking the above steps, you can help reduce the risk and provide for a smoother administration of your estate.