Five Tips to Minimize Estate Disputes
In a world where baby boomers are retiring at a rate of 10,000 per day, in the coming decades, tens of billions of dollars in assets will be transferred from one generation to the next. Unfortunately, there will be disagreements, even among close family members. With some thought and planning, however, you can help minimize the possibility of disputes involving your estate. Let’s examine five tips:
- When choosing a successor trustee for your trust, examine your family dynamics, especially if considering designating one of your children. If you foresee issues therein, consider designating a professional trustee.
- If you have co-trustees, make sure to include a provision in your estate plan for a tie-breaker if the co-trustees reach an impasse. This simple step can help resolve any future dispute without a court’s intervention.
- Consider perceptions when outlining the distribution of your estate. For example, one person may divide everything equally amongst all children. Another may leave a larger percentage to an heir who provided greater help over the years. Whatever your decision, including a detailed explanation of your thought process can help avoid any heir from feeling slighted, and may help avoid a legal contest.
- Don’t keep your trust plan a deep secret. Communication with your family and relatives who will be impacted by your estate plan is key, and that communication should occur sooner than later. Some families find it helpful to have annual discussions to talk about the family, goals, wishes and the future
- Check and double-check all beneficiary forms. Regardless of your estate planning documents, the beneficiary forms you’ve most recently filled out for each specific account will take precedence.
While there is no way to guarantee there will not be a dispute involving your estate, intentional efforts now can help minimize the possibility of disagreements. Your estate planning attorney can work with you to help your survivors avoid disagreements that can strain families and lead to expensive courtroom battles.