Life. Legacy. Law.

We can help you shape your legacy.

A clause that can prevent feuds between heirs and beneficiaries

Illinois estate owners, in particular those who are parents, have no way of knowing how their loved ones will act once they die. While no one wants to think that his or her heirs and beneficiaries will fight over the belongings the estate owner leaves behind, it occurs far more often than might be expected and can lead to permanent rifts between family members. There are several ways to help loved ones avoid such problems, however.

Surprisingly, the items that are fought over most often are not typically those worth the most money. To the contrary, it is the seemingly insignificant items that hold no more than sentimental value that often cause the most contentious battles among heirs, especially siblings. If one person claims that a parent wanted him or her to have a specific item but another says he or she was told the same thing, it can lead to nasty disputes that take weeks or months to resolve. Parents can help their adult children avoid such problems by adding a written clause to their final wills that states that any assets that become involved in disputes are to be immediately placed up for sale.

Being cautious in one’s choice of executor is also a way to help loved ones avoid probate problems. Some estate owners choose professional fiduciaries or bank-appointed trustees to manage their estates. The latter may be especially helpful for estates that exceed $500,000 in net worth. Another problem that often arises between siblings is when a parent leaves an unequal amount of inheritance between them.

Parents can help heirs and beneficiaries avoid disputes by gathering family members for a meeting to prepare them ahead of time. This prevents negative surprises later. The good news about estate planning is that each person’s plan can be personalized. An experienced estate planning attorney can provide support and make recommendations as to how best to execute a plan to provide for loved ones and avoid family disputes.