Even if your plans are simple, talking through the details of your estate plan with heirs and family members can help you settle any issues before you pass away. This is the advice of Forbes in “How to Keep Your Heirs from Fighting Over Your Estate.”
You’d think talking about your intentions ahead of time would be easy enough, but many people choose not to do so—regardless of what happens. Research shows that fewer than 33% of people discuss their estate plans with their children. More than 20% of bequest recipients fight over inheritances. But 63% of families reporting no disputes over inheritance issues tell surveys they’ve had advance notice of what to expect. And more than 80% believe they were treated fairly. Talking about your plans with the people involved can make a huge difference.
If the terms of your will or trust are unique or vary from state intestacy guidelines, speaking to everyone involved is critical. For example, if you plan to leave 80% of your estate to one child instead of splitting it 50-50 between both sons, let them know your rationale for your decision. The more your heirs see your logic, the less apt they’ll be to contest your estate plan. Plus, if there’s a conflict, you’re still around to help work out the issues.
Another way to help reduce conflicts is by adding a “no-contest” clause. This means if an heir contests the will or trust, they get nothing.
Be certain to make things clear during your lifetime—it can be a mistake to assume everyone will graciously accept your intentions and “do the right thing.” Eliminate fighting after you’re gone by speaking openly and honestly with your heirs now.
Reference: Forbes (October 31, 2016) “How to Keep Your Heirs from Fighting Over Your Estate”