One of the worst consequences of a poorly planned estate is the conflict it can create within a family. You’ve probably heard a few horror stories yourself.
Families have been torn apart because of a poorly planned estate. Hidden tensions that simmered beneath the surface get brought out into the open. Rivalries are brought up, along with old dislikes and grudges.
To make matters worse, often people become greedy over the deceased family member’s estate and try and get as much as they can.
There was one case, for example, in the United States. The man was a business owner with an estate worth over 3 million dollars. He passed away at 62 with no Will, no spouse, and no kids, but he had nine siblings.
The siblings fought bitterly over his estate. Of course, the family had probably already had problems before, but the wealth of the estate brought out the worst in them. The resentment, the blame, the legal costs and battles, all of it could have been avoided if the man had a well-drafted Will.
If his estate was well-planned, there would have been much less room for fighting.
We wanted to quickly talk about how you can prevent this from happening in your own family. Even if your family is remarkably considerate and unified, this information is still relevant. By making a few deliberate choices now, you can greatly decrease the chances of family infighting.
1. Have a Will and keep it updated.
This is the obvious one and doesn’t need much explanation. If you don’t have a Will, then when you die, it can make it very hard for your family. It makes fighting, legal disputes, and ongoing resentments more likely.
2. Deal with expectations now while you can.
One cause of fighting within a family are expectations that don’t get met. If someone in your family expects to get a sentimental item – or a larger share of the inheritance from your estate – and they don’t receive it after your death, it can cause a lot of bitterness and resentment that can spill over.
Let these people know now what they are getting. Don’t let your family members have false expectations or assumptions over what they will inherit from your estate. This way you can explain yourself and give them your reasoning on why you aren’t meeting their expectations.
3. Get specific in your Will.
Being detailed where it counts with your Will is very important. If you own certain items that have sentimental value in your family, it’s important to state who is getting what.
If you leave it vague and just say that your children will each be getting a quarter of your total estate, then you open the door to bickering and fighting over the specific items that have value to your children. By having the foresight to figure out what assets need to be mentioned, you can avoid that conflict entirely.
Saving your family from pain with your estate planning really comes down to imagining what it would be like in their situation. What matters to them? What are they expecting? Are they likely to be surprised? How well do they get on with the rest of the family?
If you can answer these questions, then you will have taken a big step towards creating an unsinkable estate plan.