When the patriarch or matriarch of a family dies, one common consequence is infighting among their heirs. While family dynamics do tend to play out after a death much as they did during the decedent’s lifetime, there are ways to avoid some of the worst fallout after a death.
Read on to learn how you can minimize strife and greed for your heirs once you have passed on.
Discuss your plans during your lifetime
Surprises in an estate can be most unwelcome, especially if one or more heirs have very different expectations of what the provisions in the will or trust actually include. You don’t have to hash it all out over your next holiday meal but have these important discussions with your heirs over the normal course of your life so that no one is left feeling both bereaved and deceived when you die.
Consider all aspects when dividing your estate
If you have an estate worth five million and you have four children, you may think that leaving each child one and a quarter million is fair. While that may be true at face value if you provided one child with tuition for Ivy League universities, then covered their law or medical school tuition as well, or if you gave your only daughter a $250,000 wedding and honeymoon, don’t think the others won’t remember that.
Your last will and testament can be your final chance to even the playing field among your children. You can note and explain any disparities to take the sting out of an unequal but equitable disposition of your estate.
Realize that shared assets can present problems
You bought a beach house when the kids were little, and many memories were made and shared in that home by the sea. You imagine generations of grandchildren romping through the rooms and dunes in harmony by leaving this vacation home to all heirs equally.
But the reality could be far different. One child might want to move his family in there for year-round occupancy. Another might be counting on their share of the proceeds from its sale to pay off student loans or other debts. A third child might envision renting it out for extra income as a commercial B&B. To that end, no one will be happy.
Transparency in your estate planning now can avoid much unhappiness and drama later when emotions are running high.