Nearly every week we receive calls from family members who are upset about a deceased loved one’s estate. Unlike in TV shows, real-life family feuds are no fun. Disputes over who gets your property after your death can drag on for years and deplete your entire estate. A lot of times when people prepare their estate plans, they are focused on minimizing taxes or avoiding Los Angeles County probate. However, the estate planning process should also be about creating the foundation upon which your estate will be settled amicably.
One of the most important components of smooth estate settlement is communication. While you are formulating your estate plan, have a conversation with your children and other loved ones to discuss who will be the executor of your estate, as well as who will serve as Power of Attorney. Settling on these decisions in advance and letting everyone know will go a long way in making sure the process goes smoothly.
One other area of consternation among families is over sentimental items. Cash and property investments are easily divided, but how do you divide mom’s engagement ring? By establishing a Will or Trust that clearly states who is to receive special items, you avoid the risk that your estate will be depleted through costly legal proceedings when your children fight over them.
Here are a few additional tips for making sure your wishes are carried out without drama:
- Be open about your estate plan. Ask your loved ones for their input when applicable and explain any special gifts or situations where heirs are not inheriting an equal amount.
- Write a letter that shares your thoughts, values, stories, love, dreams and hopes. Any chance you get to provide clarity can help keep things peaceful when you’re gone.
- Explain to your children why you have appointed a particular person to serve as your Trustee, Executor, Agent or Guardian of your children.
Family feuds erupt when people fail to plan. If there are issues with sibling rivalry, the odds go up substantially. However, even the most agreeable family members can have problems when it comes time to divide an estate. Avoid all of that drama by getting a solid estate plan in place. Call our Encino will and trust lawyers at (818) 905-6088 and we’ll help you begin the process.