Your Estate Plan Helps Avoid Unnecessary Conflict
Children, siblings, and even grandchildren may be at odds when funeral planning, dividing up your property, and handling the various legal requirements of closing your estate—all while they're trying to grieve your loss. The added stress can cause squabbling or even outright contempt among family members.
An estate plan isn't just a list of who-gets-what, it's your final statement to your loved ones. By setting out your intentions clearly, you can prevent any speculation over what you "would have wanted"—avoiding the need for estate litigation that greatly reduces the value of inheritances.
An estate planning attorney can help you:
- Provide for heirs beyond the first year. Your last will and testament may give valuable instructions to your family, but it may not be the best way to pass on your property. We can determine if a trust allows you greater control over when and how family wealth is spent.
- Get your possessions valued. If you're leaving behind multiple high-value assets, it's a good idea to get up-to-date appraisals so you know if one child is getting a greater value from the estate.
- Consider real estate carefully. It may be difficult to know what to do with real estate holdings, such as a vacation house, income property, or family home. After having the properties inspected and appraised, you'll need to provide directions for your executor on what should (or should not) be done. For example, if one child has expressed interest in inheriting the home, their proportion of inheritance may need to be adjusted.
- Make a list of heirlooms and sentimental property. While expensive possessions may cause fights between potential heirs, many will contests have been based on sentimental items. The best way to head these conflicts off is to make an itemized list of your property detailing where it will go and why. If you know that more than one person has an interest in an item, consider talking to them both now or notating why you chose one over the other.
- Take the stress out of final arrangements. Funeral and burial plans are usually upsetting for family members, but can be even more so if your wishes are unexpected. If you and your spouse don't intend to be interred together, want your ashes scattered in different places, or one of you is buried and the other cremated, some relatives might assume your wishes are "out-of-date." We can add details to your plan if it's likely to cause confusion, and even identify any pre-payments you made to plots or funeral directors.
- Appoint an executor. After you decide who will be in charge of closing your estate, we can help you write a letter of instruction, add alternatives if your first choice is unable to serve, and ensure that your executor knows where to find your estate planning documents when the time comes.
- Prepare your relatives. Once you've finalized your estate plan, it's a good idea to prepare your family members for its contents—especially if it contains surprises. Try to anticipate any concerns that your children or relatives may have and address them head-on. If someone has been disinherited or valuable property is to be sold, let the affected heirs know why. A written explanation for your choices lets everyone know that they were deliberate and shouldn't be challenged in court.
Let Us Take the Stress Out of Estate Planning
At Landskind & Ricaforte Law Group, P.C., our estate planning attorneys can help you achieve your goals and enjoy retirement with peace of mind. Contact us today through our online form to learn how we can be of assistance.