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Don't let sibling rivalry affect your estate after death

Sibling rivalry is a real problem in some families. No matter what their parents do, siblings will sometimes feel that they're treated unfairly.

As you prepare your estate, it's important to consider the potential for your children to have that rivalry after you pass away. You can take steps to pass on assets to them in a way that won't allow them to fight with one another. If you do, you may be able to help keep the peace even after you're gone.

What are some good ways to approach estate planning when your children act like rivals?

One good option is to start by recognizing those underlying conflicts. Talk to your children about why they're fighting with one another or what spurs their rivalry. If you can get an understanding of it, you can take steps to make them feel like they're even. Resentment among siblings does sometimes exist, but knowing that, you can put safeguards into your estate to prevent it from impacting its distribution later.

Another good idea is to introduce your family members to your financial advisors, attorney and others involved in your case. These individuals will all be involved in your estate plans, so they should know your children and any heirs who may later cause a conflict. Having an open discussion could help prevent one, too.

Finally, take the time to communicate what you want to see happen after you pass away. Tell your children what you want each of them to have while you're still alive, so you can deal with any conflicts immediately. For example, if you're going to leave a house to one child and $50,000 to the other, one may argue that it's not fair. Talk to them about your decision and why you've made it. Their input could help you, too. It may be that something you've considered is unfair, and you would then have time to reassess.

This is your estate plan, so you should design it how you want

In the end, it's up to you to build an estate plan that protects your assets and encourages your heirs and beneficiaries to take what they're given. Your attorney and advisors will work with you to put safeguards in place to prevent conflicts or will-related disputes, so that you can rest easy knowing that your children's sibling rivalry won't carry over into ruining your estate plans in the future.

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