Estate planning is about more than money. It’s also about handling the emotional aspects of leaving an estate to one’s heirs. In fact, family disputes often arise over the emotional aspects of “fairly” dividing up the physical mementos of loved ones.
Parents can be stymied over how to treat their children fairly. In addition to choices about how to fairly distribute their property, parents must decide who will inherit the responsibility for divvying up their possessions, who will handle the money, and who will pull the plug. Sometimes, parents become so overwhelmed by these emotionally-charged decisions, they can become paralyzed and not make any decision. Then, the unexpected happens, and the court must decide for them.
We Encourage Proactivity
We strongly encourage parents and their children to hold a family meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss these specific issues. You might find it valuable to ask a trusted individual to act as facilitator. You may feel reluctant to discuss issues related to death but please remember how important they are. After all, these are issues that, as parents you can only resolve while you’re still alive.
Avoid Post-Death Litigation
It is critical to put all the issues on the table; this can help prevent disputes that lead to litigation after your death. Some studies indicate that if such a family discussion is not held, the surviving children are five times more likely to have a dispute over the estate.
Among the most important issues that you and your family need to discuss include sharing values, life lessons, distributing physical possessions, fulfilling final wishes, and money.
They May Not Be Able To Work It Out Alone
Don’t assume that your kids will work everything out while at the same time dealing with the stress of grief for a lost parent. That can be a formula for disaster, and is the kind of thinking that indirectly enables lawyers to share in the inheritance. If nothing is done, sibling relationships can be altered forever, and usually not for the better.
When it is all said and done, it's the family you're planning for in the first place. Therefore, in order to plan properly, first you need to understand your family. Proper planning ought to include discussing these issues with your family and then making the final decisions. Communication is key. We've said it before, proper planning starts with a thorough understanding of your needs, goals, dreams and aspirations. It takes into account your Values not just your Valuables. Let's work together to implement an estate plan that works for you. Remember, good planning is no accident.