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Prevent Family Conflict with Help from an Estate Planning Attorney

March 15, 2017

If a person has more than one child, hiring an estate planning attorney can help to prevent the conflict that tends to arise when parents die. Even families that get along can begin to fight over how to divide mom’s china, the vacation property or other assets. Combining the grief of losing a loved one and the stress of settling an estate can bring out the worst in people. The entire process can cause rifts that do not easily heal. To prevent this from becoming a possibility within one’s family, call my office. With the parent’s wishes written in a legal format, they can work to prevent much of this conflict and confusion.

#1. Begin by listing all assets

List out all assets including things both small and large. One mistake that people often make is considering only obvious factors like homes and checking accounts. Things like business investments, 401k’s, pieces of property purchased years ago and even household objects need to be included.

While it is not necessary to list every piece of furniture by name, if they are divided amongst heirs, then the list needs to include them all. The more detailed an asset list is, the less likely that there will be conflict. When specific items are not in an estate plan and still get distributed to family members, it can lead to intense disputes. Unfortunately, there will be no way to clearly identify what was supposed to be done with the items.

#2. Create a trust and move assets into it

A trust is an effective estate management tool. An entity in and of itself, an individual can create a trust and place assets into it prior to the death. Then, the individual can create rules for how to manage the trust and distribute the funds upon the individual’s death. This works to avoid the probate process, making it easier for family members and helping to instill a level of control in asset distribution. There may also be tax benefits to creating a trust.

#3. Identify your heirs

As an estate planning attorney in PA and Florida, I encourage clients to identify all potential heirs and to consider who to give specific items to. However, if only one or two heirs are to receive something, it is still wise to acknowledge the others do exist and may have a claim, but do not gain anything in the will.

#4. Determine who the executor should be

Someone needs to be in charge of ensuring that the instructions listed in the estate plan are carried out. The executor should be capable and trustworthy.

#5. Set aside funds for managing the distribution and settlement process

I recommend setting funds aside to pay for things like funeral expenses and estate management after death. If a probate is necessary, the family will need to pay for the services of an attorney. Putting some money in an account for these expenses (and listing those instructions in the estate plan) can help to ease the stress.

Schedule a consultation

To discuss ways that you can prevent family conflict through the creation of a solid estate plan, call my office and schedule a consultation. As an estate planning attorney in PA and Florida, I can assist you and work to protect your wishes today and in the future.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice