How to Resolve Inheritance Disputes Before They Happen
End-of-life planning is an uncomfortable subject. No family wants to imagine the death of a loved one, and it can seem morbid to plan for your own death.
However, a little bit of end-of-life planning can go a long way toward keeping a family together. When a family doesn’t plan how to distribute an inheritance, it can often lead to family feuds and court cases. Some families are fractured beyond repair and never totally recover from prolonged legal battles over inheritance disputes.
Thankfully, you can keep your family out of the courthouse by planning. But, to prevent a future inheritance dispute from happening, it’s important to understand the reasons why they arise.
Why Inheritance Disputes Happen
Family relationships can be convoluted and complex, and there are many reasons why an inheritance dispute can happen. However, most disputes begin with one of these three circumstances:
1. Poor Communication
Unclear communication between living family members can lead to a host of problems after death. For example, is there a relative that was intentionally excluded from your will? Do they clearly realize that they’ve been purposely written out of the will? If no one in the family understands your intentions, they may assume that the exclusion was an accident and attempt to resolve the matter in court.
2. Lack of Written Will
Without a legally binding written document that explains how to divide your assets, your relatives will likely face conflict. Some family members may believe that they’re entitled to more than an even share of your belongings. Others may want to exclude certain relatives, stating past slights or mistakes — whether real or imagined. Additionally, without a written will, the government could end up with most of your inheritance instead of your family.
3. Changes in Family Dynamics
A family’s shape can change rapidly with the introduction of stepfamilies, remarriages, or unmarried partners living together. Although it can be difficult to imagine, adult children or other relatives may not believe that your new partner or spouse is entitled to a share of your inheritance. Also, arguments between relatives can lead to a relative being justifiably excluded from your will. Those situations and many more can create legal problems after your passing.
Many situations can plant the seeds of an overblown family conflict to come. How can you prevent those fights from happening before they begin?
How to Prevent Inheritance Disputes
You can play an important role in keeping your family united by planning carefully. When establishing the future of your inheritance, be sure to follow these two steps:
1. Communicate Clearly
It’s essential that your family understands your intentions before you’re gone. Isn’t it much easier for you to explain your wishes now instead of asking your family to later rely on a piece of paper?
Tell your family exactly who you’ve included in your will — and who you haven’t! Additionally, if you already have an idea of who should get a pet, a large sum of money, or a special heirloom, let your family know.
Additionally, it’s important to avoid unintentional oversights in your will. According to a recent British report, millions are likely to fight a loved one’s will if they’re unhappy with how assets are divided. If you have responsibilities toward dependent relatives, make sure they’re provided for by including them in the appropriate legal documents.
2. Review Your Estate Plan Each Year
Do you have a written and legally binding will? If not, don’t delay in writing one! Ask for the assistance of an estate planning attorney to limit the possibility of future legal challenges. Keep your estate attorney involved by letting them know about any deeply entrenched rivalries or feuds in the family. That way, they’ll be able to carry out your wishes no matter how various relatives feel about your decisions. Finally, be sure to review your will frequently to keep up with changing laws and family dynamics.
By taking responsibility for your estate and end-of-life planning, you can give your family many happy years together. Then, without the stress of wondering what will happen to your loved ones and your inheritance, you’ll be able to enjoy the years with them!
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If you or a loved one are in need of help living a safe, active, and independent lifestyle, call the Davis Community today at 910.686.7195 or simply complete and submit our online information request form. We provide exceptional assisted living and skilled nursing services in Wilmington, NC. We offer a strong and supportive environment where your loved one will feel welcomed and part of an active community. Davis Community is pleased to offer customized concierge home care services, including meal preparation and nutritional guidance, to independent seniors living in Landfall, Cambridge Village, Wrightsville Beach, and Porter’s Neck, NC. Get to know the difference today!