During estate planning, careful consideration is often given to each beneficiary to ensure a will is executed as the testator intends. However, numerous families have been torn apart due to estate disputes when a loved one dies. Children of a recently deceased parent may turn against each other, or spouses may fight with their in-laws. To avoid such possible conflicts, consider these four ways to minimize family disputes about an estate:
Create a trust
Creating a trust ensures you have greater control over the assets you leave behind. You can dictate what each beneficiary receives and how items are divided. Beneficiaries can always go to the probate court to challenge a trust; however, it is much more complicated to challenge a trust than a will.
Pick a suitable executor
It is vital that you choose the right executor to minimize the possibility of conflicts over your estate. Ensure that they are fair, competent, and trustworthy. The right executor will give you some level of assurance that your estate is in safe hands after your demise. When left in the wrong hands, an executor can complicate matters and even cause problems. For example, they can fail to uphold their duty to beneficiaries when they also benefit from the estate. Other individuals may let their personal feelings guide their decision on what happens to the estate.
Include a no-contest clause
Family members can always challenge your trust or will in a probate court; however, you can add a no-contest clause that revokes the assets left to a beneficiary if they challenge your last wishes. Family members will likely think twice if they could potentially lose everything by doing so, and probate court will no longer remain an attractive option for them.
Openly express your last wishes
Consider talking to all beneficiaries about what happens to your assets once you pass away. Let them know who will receive specific items or monetary accounts and if you wish, the reasoning behind your decisions. While it may be an uncomfortable conversation, keeping everything in the open will avoid surprises and questions about the legitimacy of your will.
Creating a will allows you to pass along your legacy to your loved ones, but the process is not always smooth. By considering these recommendations, you can help avoid long-lasting conflicts among family members who might otherwise challenge your decisions.