Thoughtful estate planning can help prevent conflict among surviving family members. It can also save families the hassle of Colorado probate court, which can be a costly process involving significant delays in the distribution of assets.
Often, a lack of communication is at the root of familial estate-planning conflict. The following examples demonstrate this principle.
First, consider the case of siblings who, unbeknownst to them, will be tasked with determining the distribution of their parent’s estate. Although parents almost always have the best intentions when adding these types of provisions to their will, these provisions often come as unwelcome surprises because they require siblings to reconcile differing opinions, preferences, and financial situations. Instead, parents can consider identifying their children’s preferences ahead of time and working with a planning attorney to create a will that balances those preferences as much as possible.
Second, without proper communication, the issue of remarriage can create significant conflict. This is because children often expect to inherit whatever portion of their parents’ estates remains once both parents have died. This often will not be the case, however, if a parent remarries and then dies before their new spouse. If this occurs, then the new spouse will typically inherit the estate. Talking to children ahead of time about this fact can help to prevent conflict. Parents can also use a variety of legal instruments, such as trusts, to reserve assets for their children in the event of remarriage.
Third, the specific provisions of a will sometimes come as a surprise to family members. While some heirs may be pleasantly surprised by a will, others may be disgruntled. Although difficult, talking with family members ahead of time about one’s will can help to align their expectations with reality.
Finally, on occasion, people may overlook the important step of communicating the location of their will to a trusted family member or friend. If a will cannot be located, it obviously cannot be enforced. Instead, assets will be distributed according to Colorado’s formulaic laws of intestacy, which rarely, if ever, align with the provisions of a personalized will. This can result in unfulfilled promises, leading to significant conflict as family members attempt to secure what they believe is owed to them based on a will that cannot be located.
Working with an experienced trust and estates attorney is the best way to help ensure that the above scenarios do not become a reality for your family.
Contact a Colorado Estate Planning Attorney Today
Whether you have not yet started the estate planning process or you have a complete plan in place, the Braverman Law Group can help. For those just beginning the estate planning process, our experienced team of attorneys can help you sort out your wishes and create a comprehensive plan to help ensure they will be fulfilled. For those with a complete estate plan already in place, our Boulder estate planning lawyers can help you make adjustments as needed based on changes in family circumstances or other relevant events. For a free phone consultation with one of our attorneys, call 303-800-1588 today.