Estate planning revolves around family dynamics, so it’s not uncommon to hear that a family is experiencing friction while settling a loved one’s estate. Parents, children and extended family members are likely all wondering who gets what part of the estate, how much money they may be granted as an inheritance, and so forth.
Inheritance refers to property acquired through the laws of descent and distribution. The best way to manage the acquisition and distribution of inheritances and assets in a will is to efficiently plan ahead that person’s estate ahead of time, and to work with an experienced, trustworthy estate planning lawyer who can guide you every step of the way.
Most family members will have their own desires regarding inheritances, and have their own ideas of how much they deserve. The will in question may not address these desires, causing friction. Wills, trusts, powers of attorney, advance directives, health care plans, and more can be planned out with the help of an estate law attorney. At Thomas-Walters, PLLC, we guide families with compassionate advocacy through this entire process.
How Can I Reduce Fighting Over Inheritance?
The best way to mitigate the risk of fighting over inheritance is to talk to an estate planning lawyer proactively. It’s unfortunate to see families scrambling after a loved one has passed away, while they try to dole out the deceased’s estate and assets.
First, your estate planning lawyer will assess the estate in its entirety, calculating a sum of the assets. This includes physical assets, such as property and cars, in addition to liabilities and insurance policies, bank accounts, investment accounts, and other important items of value.
Your attorney will then help you create a letter of explanation and introduction, which includes specific instructions such as what to do with vacation property, family jewelry, or other treasured items of the estate. At this step, you will decide which family members or loved ones will receive which heirlooms, and you can include why. With this step being addressed proactively, it greatly reduces the risk of fighting occurring when settling a loved one’s estate.
Your estate planning lawyer will even help you compile important account information and passwords to make finding important information a breeze. Rather than reaching out to many family members and scrambling to find information last minute, your estate planning attorney will have all of these processes addressed up front. This transparency makes it easy for everyone to understand what will happen with the will and their inheritances, minimizing arguments and disputes.
How Should I Confront My Family Members About Their Inheritances?
Whether you are planning your own estate or on behalf of a loved one, you should meet with your family to discuss how assets will be divided and distributed after death. If you are planning your own estate, you should name your executor, and explain why you’ve chosen that person.
You can use this time to explain to your loved ones how your heirlooms and assets will be inherited to them after you’ve passed away. You should let them know that you have established a will or a trust, and that your wishes are clearly laid out in this plan, which was created under the supervision of a lawyer.
Health care directives are also included in your end-of-life plan, so be sure to tell your family members who your health care proxy is as well. A health care proxy is a person who acts as an agent for your health care. In the event that you are unable to communicate, your health care proxy will make important decisions on your behalf. As it goes, without saying, this person needs to be someone you trust with your life.
Talking to your family about your end-of-life estate plan is not always easy. Talking about your death, or the death of a loved one, can be a daunting experience. You may need to defend your choices for health care proxy executor of your will, and reassure your loved ones why you made the decisions you did. Rest assured that, with the help of a lawyer, your estate plan will be created to the best of your ability, and will cover every possible avenue for conflict in the future. As long as you have the help of a trusted lawyer, you can get through these difficult parts with their help.
Schedule A Free Estate Planning Consultation with Thomas-Walters, PLLC Today
Estate planning is broad and encompasses a variety of legal tools, documents, and methods meant to provide you with financial security, protection, and a strategy that will help your family following your death.
The best way to reduce friction and fighting during the estate planning process is to contact a lawyer as early as possible. The sooner you create an airtight estate plan, the sooner you can rest assured that your wishes will be fulfilled past your lifetime.
Schedule a free, no-obligation estate planning consultation with Thomas-Walters, PLLC today.