As you do your estate planning, are you really just trying to create a plan that will keep the peace? Maybe you have heard stories of people whose relationships have ended because of estate disputes. Maybe you know siblings who went through such a dispute and now, years after it has ended, they still do not talk to one another.
Noting matters to you more than ensuring that your children all stay on good terms. You want to avoid a dispute. Understanding why these disputes happen can be beneficial to you as you look into the estate planning options that can help you avoid such an outcome. Here are a few reasons for disputes:
- The parent does not leave a will or an estate plan, so the siblings have to make decisions on their own
- The will or estate plan leaves joint property — such as a house — to all siblings, and they then have to determine what to do with this property
- The estate plan leaves unequal bequests to different heirs, and those who get less take offense to this plan
- The estate plan cuts one person out entirely, disinheriting them
- The parent does not draft a letter of instruction to tell the children about their wishes
- Alternatively, the parent does not talk to the children about the estate plan in advance, so they do not understand what the parent wanted or they have unmet expectations
These are certainly not all of the reasons for estate disputes, but they do help to shed some light on common causes. To avoid them, look into all of the estate planning options that you have.