While creating an estate plan is crucial, having a will or trust in place is really just the beginning of the process. With some families, heirs come into conflict about the decisions made by the deceased, which can incur both time and money when it comes to legal battles. While you can’t always prevent conflicts from occurring, Kiplinger offers the following advice.
Anticipate problems areas
Your executor will be responsible for carrying out the terms of your estate plan. Choosing an adult child for this duty is often the source of great conflict within families, as some may view it as you playing favorites. In this case, consider choosing another family member or a trustworthy friend for the job. You can also use a financial entity, such as a bank, to ensure all decisions are made impartially.
Know how to handle sentimental items
Some of your belongings might have greater sentimental value. These items can be very hard to disperse to your heirs, as no amount of money can make up for their importance. In this case, the best thing you can do is to have a frank discussion about these items and why they’re important to your heirs. You can even let them choose among your cherished personal belongings so they can work out matters on their own.
Work through blended family issues
Navigating estate issues within blended families is rarely easy. However, there are steps you can take to alleviate some of this stress. You can set aside part of your estate for children from a previous marriage if you’ve recently remarried. You can also set up a marital trust, which ensures money is available for your new spouse as well as your children. Even just talking over the issue can be beneficial in many cases.