Estate disputes that arise following a loved one’s demise are not uncommon. Left to escalate, these disputes can severely put a strain on the relationships as well as the assets in question when the matter is brought before the probate court.
Fortunately, thoughtful estate planning can help minimize these disputes as well as the resulting damages. Here are helpful resources that can help your dependents avoid costly estate disputes while ensuring that your wishes are carried out.
Continually review and update your estate plan
You have probably heard the adage, “The only thing permanent in life is change.” Yes, that is right. Life’s circumstances are bound to change from time to time, and as they do, so should your estate plan. Have new beneficiaries come into your life by way of marriage, birth or adoption? Have some beneficiaries left by way of divorce or death? Have your wishes changed over the years? It is important that your estate plan is reflective of your present wishes. An up-to-date estate plan will go a long way in minimizing estate conflicts when the document is finally unveiled for implementation.
Fairly distribute your assets
A fair, and equal distribution of assets may be easier said than done. However, it is important that you are as fair in your distribution as possible. Of course, subject to the family dynamics, some heirs may have specific financial needs. Some parents too may have special attachments to some children than others. The result: There may be an uneven distribution of assets. It is important that you are fair in your distribution and communicate why you have made certain decisions to everyone.
Clearly communicate your decisions
As already indicated, if you are making uneven asset distribution between the beneficiaries, and have a valid justification for your decision, be sure to let everyone know your reasons. Try to let your beneficiaries understand why you are allotting certain assets to certain individuals. Keep in mind that communication is a two-way street, so be ready to take feedback and answer any questions your beneficiaries might be having.
An estate plan speaks your wishes when you are no longer around to make decisions regarding your assets. However, it is important that your estate plan is properly created and updated.