The probate process in many states can be complicated and stressful for the families of individuals who have recently passed. Thankfully, a skilled estate planning attorney can do much to help individuals and families avoid these headaches, including setting up trusts to keep some assets out of probate and drafting clear wills and other beneficiary designations. Still, many individuals do not have an estate plan or fail to have an updated and comprehensive estate plan. Unfortunately, this lack of foresight can enable disputes, even if you believe your assets to be clearly designated. Even families that get along harmoniously can act out of character in the presence of grief and finances.
According to a recent article, these family disputes are unfortunately all too common. An adult child of divorced parents recently posted to a message board that their father is ill and would likely pass soon. The adult child’s mother, who divorced from the child’s father over 20 years ago, when the child was just a teenager, has told the child she believes she is owed a stake in her ex-husband’s assets. The child stands to inherit enough money to help purchase a home, but the mother is asking for a piece of the inheritance because she asserts she did not receive enough money in the separation agreement.
Fortunately, divorce settlements are difficult to reopen in the United Kingdom, where the writer is located. And if their father has a well-drafted and clear last will and testament and estate plan, it is unlikely the mother’s claim holds water. This story, however, goes to show one of many ways families can squabble over inheritances when the time comes.
Ways To Peacefully Resolve Disputes
Even if you have carefully planned for your passing and your beneficiaries, executor, and other involved parties are aware of your wishes, disputes can still occur. Parties can do several things to resolve disputes amicably—or at least without much strife.
First, a mediator costs less than taking a dispute to court. A neutral third party can balance the interests of the parties in dispute and come to a more agreeable solution. Occasionally, liquidating assets to fairly distribute funds among parties can help resolve disputes. In a similar vein, choosing an executor or trustee who is not a family member can help keep the fiduciary neutral and independent.
Often, decedents try to distribute assets fairly among parties, but the value of those assets swings dramatically between will drafting and the drafter’s passing. Liquidating these assets can resolve those issues. Similar disputes can arise over the value, sentimental or otherwise, of household items. A system of taking turns or randomly allotting disputed items can promote fairness in the process.
Colorado Estate Planning Attorney
For help drafting a will and an estate plan that promotes fairness and minimizes familial strife, call the Boulder estate planning attorneys at the Braverman Law Group. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our trusted attorneys, give us a call today at (303) 800-1588.