The death of a loved one can disrupt even the most peaceful families with healthy dynamics. For many, preserving family relationships after they’re gone remains as important as preserving their wealth for future generations.
Whether you’ve already put a plan in place or you are in the beginning stages of estate planning, you should avoid some common mistakes that may damage family relationships when you’re gone.
Here are some tips that might help you avoid family discord surrounding your estate:
Estate Planning Tips To Avert Family Conflicts
Choosing a Trustee
One of the benefits of estate planning is preventing your estate from getting tied up in probate. Many times this is done by creating a revocable trust where assets are distributed to heirs upon your death.
When you create the trust, you must designate a trustee, or you may choose to have co-trustees, who manage the assets of the trust. A debate exists about whether it’s good practice to designate all of your children as trustees. Choosing one over another may cause hard feelings.
Yet, disagreements about money are not uncommon after the death of a loved one, so designating all of your children as trustees may also lead to a rift.
It’s best to openly discuss options with your children during the planning process and do what is best for your family. If you suspect that either of these scenarios might cause hurt or divide your family, you can always designate a third party as trustee to keep the peace.
Make Sure Your Trust is Funded
Setting up a trust and choosing a trustee are important steps for estate planning, but you must take additional steps to ensure a smooth process when you’re gone. Your trust needs to be funded to avoid opening up a probate proceeding in Ohio.
This means that you need to re-title your assets into the name of the trust as a beneficiary where applicable.
Some tax considerations do exist about the best way to transfer assets into your trust, but your trusted estate planning attorney will guide you on the right choices for your situation.
If you fail to fund your trust prior to your death, your estate could end up in the Probate Court. Probate proceedings, or a transfer of assets, could open up the door for your heirs to fight over your intent.
You may also choose to create a pour-over will, which serves as a catch-all for assets that weren’t transferred. This won’t avoid probate, but it will honor your intentions and provide a legal path to transfer assets after your death.
Treat Your Children Equally
Your children have different personalities, life paths, successes, and failures. You may be tempted to leave a larger portion of your estate to the child who needs it most or the child who has been the most successful.
Regardless of your reasoning, you risk igniting or reigniting sibling rivalries and causing hurt feelings because of favoritism.
Of course, exceptions do exist. You may have to accommodate for special needs or disabilities. Similarly, if you have a child that struggles with addiction or other unhealthy or criminal lifestyle choices, you may choose to adjust their inheritance or control the way in which they receive it.
Disinheriting a child should be a last resort in extreme situations. The emotional fallout of disinheritance causes lifelong feelings of rejection that could create a permanent divide in your family for generations to come.
Contact an Experienced Cleveland OH Estate Planning Attorney Today
You need to consider the emotional fallout and consequences for your heirs when planning your estate. When you openly communicate during the estate planning process, you can help alleviate any potential damage to family relationships after you’re gone.
Let an experienced Estate Planning and Probate attorney guide you through the planning process and figure out which choices work best for your circumstances.
Contact Dworken & Bernstein today for a free consultation to discuss your estate planning needs.
The information presented in this post is not legal advice and does not form a lawyer/client relationship. Laws and circumstances can differ and change.
Please contact us for a personal review of your situation