Few people like surprises so to avoid them have open communication to avoid disputes.
In order to minimize the surprise that some of your family members might feel when they sit down to read your Will or trust, consider including relatives in the planning process. If you think that the inclusion of family members will hinder the actual planning process, instead, at a minimum, discuss the decisions you make in your Will or trust with your loved ones.
Prior to your death, it is important that family members are aware of the responsibilities and roles they will have in your Will or trust. A study by U.S. Trust reveals that less than one-third of persons have discussed their estate plans with their children. Whether your relatives act as trustee, executor, or other fiduciary, or even if they are merely beneficiaries, they should know their role and be aware of your expectations. By including family members in the planning process or providing advance notice, relatives also can decline particular roles if they do not want the associated responsibilities. It is also important to analyze any pre-existing family discord prior to the creation of your Will or trust. Nearly twenty percent of bequest recipients experience fights over inheritance issues.
Clear communication regarding your Will or trust can diminish or even eliminate disputes over inheritances. By having a discussion with your relatives, you can explain your reasoning behind certain gifts. For example, some family members may not like the idea of a trust, and you can take the time to explain why you chose this estate plan for them: tax benefits, professional asset management, creditor protection, etc. In the families that report no conflicts over inheritance issues, sixty-three percent said they had advance notice as to what to expect and over eighty percent of family members felt they were treated fairly.
In sum, having a postmortem discussion about your estate planning documents with your family members can clarify your expectations and diminish family conflicts.
Compliments of the McGee Law Firm, Attorney Brandon McGee
Written By: The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys