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How do I prevent family arguments over my estate?

An inheritance or the prospect of receiving one can change the way Harrisburg family members feel about one another. It's not uncommon for children to be upset with parents' proposed wealth distribution plans or parents to alter estate planning decisions based on a single disagreement or disappointment with a family member.

Parents and children certainly can feel anyway they like about the passing of wealth from one generation to the next. However, it's wise to consider the damage -- sometimes permanent -- that might be caused by a family legal dispute over a will and a costly trip to probate court.

"You can't please everyone" is never truer than when someone is drawing up an estate plan. Many people try to prevent a family controversy by avoiding the subjects of death and estate plans entirely during their lives. What often happens? Heirs and beneficiaries expect something very different than what they receive after your death.

The deceased doesn't have to witness the aftermath of an estate plan kept secret until it is activated by death. But, think about the reason the plan was designed initially. Most individuals want a legacy to improve the lives of the people they left behind, not be the reason for a quarrel that drives a wedge between family members indefinitely.

It is permissible and even advisable to talk openly with heirs and beneficiaries -- but not necessarily in fine detail -- about your asset distribution plans. Remember an estate plan reflects your wishes. Not everyone will respond warmly, but they will not be shocked later.

Try not to mix emotions with financial issues. Don't hold an heir's inheritance hostage to try to influence behavior. Instead, resolve relationship problems as they occur to preserve the overall integrity of the family.

An estate planning attorney can offer further insight into how to avoid family squabbles over assets, before and after your death.

Source: Forbes, "How Your Kids Really Feel About The Way You Plan To Divvy Up Your Assets," Robert Laura, June 19, 2015

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