When you’re passing on a high-value estate to your children, it can be very complicated and you may know that disputes are likely. After all, a life-changing amount of wealth could be on the line. These types of disputes can sometimes cause a rift between siblings that lasts for the rest of their lives, and so parents who are making their estate plan usually want to minimize the odds that this will happen.
How do you do it? You can’t guarantee that your heirs will not get into a dispute, but there are some simple steps you can take in advance to lower the odds. Let’s look at a few examples.
Create a comprehensive plan
More than anything else, the best way to avoid a dispute is to make sure that your estate plan is comprehensive and touches on every possible issue you can consider. If you do not instruct your heirs regarding who is supposed to receive certain assets, they will have to make these decisions on their own or through the court. This often leads to disputes when they can’t agree on what you would’ve wanted. Leaving them an estate plan at least makes it clear that you had a specific goal that you wanted to accomplish. This makes a dispute less likely.
Use a disinheritance clause
If you’re going to cut someone out of your will, note that this makes it far more likely that they will end up in an estate dispute with their siblings. They may accuse their siblings of creating a fraudulent will or they may say that you merely forgot to include them in the estate plan. If you use a disinheritance clause, once again, it allows you to make your wishes known.
Keep things equal
One of the best things you can do is to avoid leaving unequal bequests to your heirs. Similarly to disinheriting someone, this dramatically raises the odds of an estate dispute. That doesn’t mean that you cannot do it, but make sure you have a discussion with your heirs to explain your choices. Otherwise, it can be best to simply give equal bequests to everyone.
As you make your estate plan, carefully consider all of the legal steps you’ll need to take.