The Experience To Get You Through This

3 ways people can prevent fighting over their estates

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2024 | Estate Planning

When people think about their legacies, they often imagine the positive impact that inheriting their resources could have on their loved ones. An inheritance might let someone pay off their mortgage, send their children to college or fully fund a retirement account.

Unfortunately, the resources that someone leaves when they die often trigger disputes among their loved ones. Families may end up fighting over the contents of someone’s estate so intensely that the disputes cause permanent relationship damage. Siblings may become estranged from one another, and stepchildren may permanently sever relationships with stepparents over probate conflicts.

How can someone who is worried about family members fighting over the terms of their estate protect their legacy and the relationships among the people who matter to them?

Keeping an estate plan up to date

Many people procrastinate for so long about estate planning that they don’t have documents when they need the most. Many others who do have an estate plan failed to regularly update their documents. Outdated estate planning paperwork can be the source of conflict among family members who may claim that the documents do not honestly reflect someone’s wishes. A testator who regularly reviews and updates their estate planning paperwork can prevent conflicts related to outdated terms.

Planning for conflict minimization

There are several estate planning strategies that testators can use to diminish the likelihood of conflict among their beneficiaries. Adding a no-contest clause to a will is one such solution. Using a trust to arrange for the descent of property is another. The right estate planning paperwork can make it much less likely for beneficiaries to battle in court over someone’s estate.

Communicating wishes with family members

Often, conflicts related to someone’s estate plan stem from unmet expectations. Family members expect to receive certain property or a certain portion of someone’s estate. When the estate planning documents do not meet those expectations, they may feel compelled to take the matter to court. People who honestly talk with their family members about their estate planning wishes can reduce the likelihood of their beneficiaries feuding over the resources they leave behind. Having open and honest conversations about the assets in someone’s estate and what should happen with them can reduce the likelihood of people developing unreasonable expectations regarding their inheritances.

Addressing concerns like familial disputes during the estate planning process can help to ensure that someone’s legacy is positive, rather than a source of conflict.

FindLaw Network

Serving New Hampshire & Massachusetts
Since 1992