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Preventing a battle among your heirs

Do you have a family that never feuds, is never jealous of one another, and is always drama-free? Not many of us do. Even if you are fortunate enough to have answered yes to that question, who's to say they will remain that way once you are gone?

It seems that family squabbles over inheritances are ever-increasing -- maybe in part due to adult children shouldering the responsibility of their parents before their death and expecting they deserve more, or the growing number of blended families. For some reason, money and inheritances tend to fire up a family like nothing else.

Whether you worry about this or not, you can do a lot to help keep it from happening. Don't put off your estate planning, for starters. You can settle a lot just by putting your wishes down on paper. Talking to your heirs about your plans is another good idea. If you set their expectations, they will not be surprised when the will is executed and they find that their sibling inherited that beautiful painting they wanted. This also gives them an opportunity to tell you about things they might have attached sentimental value to.

There may be rivalries between siblings or relatives that can't be avoided, but foreseeing them allows you to make the best of the situation. Not naming any one of your children or relatives as executor of your will may go a long way towards avoiding the appearance of favoritism. You can name an independent trustee as the executor and even include a "no contest" clause that states that a challenging heir will not inherit anything in cases where you feel conflict may still occur.

If one child is your caretaker, and thus will inherit a larger portion of your estate, discussing this with your other children is not a bad idea either. Hopefully, some of these tips will help your heirs move on in a loving family relationship, possibly drawing closer rather than further apart.

Source: Kiplinger, "Head Off Squabbles Among Your Heirs," Eleanor Laise, Kiplinger's Retirement Report, accessed Jan. 08, 2016

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