It’s not unusual for families to fight over inheritance, leading to prolonged legal battles and damaged relationships. The Ascent’s recent article, “How to Create a Will That Keeps Your Family From Fighting,” provides some tips on how to create a will that keeps your family from fighting.
Discuss your intentions beforehand. Parents need to discuss the objectives and intentions of their estate plans with their children. This lets them set expectations. You don’t have to reveal dollar figures or investment assets. Instead, the key is ensuring the children understand the rationale behind the will.
Splitting up unique assets. Dividing up unique property can frequently result in fights. You may have sentimental items that multiple family members have expressed interest in, or maybe a piece of property has sentimental value to one family member over the others. You may want to speak to family members beforehand to see if any items are particularly important to them. It’s crucial to be clear in your wishes and make sure that everyone is on the same page. You should also use specific language in your will that outlines who gets what and under what conditions.
Preserving inheritance for blended families. This can be even more complicated for blended families. It’s important to approach the division of your assets with sensitivity and thoughtfulness to avoid potential conflicts among family members. Parents with children from previous marriages should take extra care to protect those children financially because stepchildren can be disinherited once a parent dies. Separate wills for each spouse can add protection. There’s something called a “contractual” will” where each spouse agrees that the surviving spouse doesn’t have the legal right to execute a new will that disinherits the children of the deceased spouse. This is designed to ensure that each spouse’s assets are distributed according to their wishes and prevents the surviving spouse from making changes that cut other family members out of the will.
Creating a will that keeps your family from WWIII is a valuable process. Parents should be open about their estate plans with their children to ensure that they understand their intentions. Communication is vital when it comes to estate planning.
Reference: The Ascent (Aug. 15, 2023) “How to Create a Will That Keeps Your Family From Fighting”