If you’re drafting an estate plan, you may be very conscious of the issues that an estate dispute – a dispute between your beneficiaries after you pass away – can create. Working to avoid estate disputes can help ensure that your assets are distributed correctly, that your wishes are followed and that loved ones don’t find themselves facing expensive and emotionally draining conflicts.
How might the construction of your plan help you to avoid the risk of such disputes? These are some tips that may help.
Create a clear and comprehensive will
Draft a well-defined will that outlines what you want to happen during asset distribution. Be specific about who should inherit what assets, rather than offering general guidelines. Many estate disputes happen simply because people do not make an estate plan in the first place and heirs cannot agree on what the deceased would have wanted.
Focus on open communication
Talk to your family members and heirs about your estate plans. While you don’t need to disclose all the details, letting them know your general intentions can reduce surprises and misunderstandings. If an heir has an issue with the plan, they can talk to you directly and you can sort things out in advance so that a dispute doesn’t happen later.
Gift assets during your lifetime
Consider giving gifts or financial assistance to beneficiaries during your lifetime, especially if you anticipate disputes after your passing. This can reduce potential sources of conflict, especially if no one has any issues with those distributions at the time. You also want to make a plan to deal with family heirlooms, which may not have much financial value but which often cause conflicts. Distributing them in advance can be beneficial if fighting over them is a real possibility later.
Remember to update your plan
Life circumstances are never static and always change over time. Review your will after these events or on a set schedule, like every other year. Make necessary updates, especially after significant life events like birth, death, marriage, divorce or major financial changes. An updated and accurate plan is less likely to inspire a dispute.
Planning in advance
Remember that each individual’s estate is unique, and estate planning should be tailored to your specific situation and goals. By taking these steps, you can minimize the chances of estate disputes and provide peace of mind for your loved ones. Be sure you carefully consider all of the legal options at your disposal before committing to a particular approach in order to better ensure the effectiveness of your plan overall.