4 Measures to Avoid Family Inheritance Disputes

Updated: Nov 15

Estate plans are intended to ensure family members will be provided for after a loved one passes away. Unfortunately, in spite of the decedent's best intentions, disputes involving a family inheritance can tear a family apart.

Family estate disputes can be caused by a number of issues such as long-standing family feuds, the unhelpful advice of significant others or just because some money is at stake. The thing is, disputes can tie up property and assets for years.

However, with proper planning, you can reduce the risk of family inheritance disputes. Below are four points to consider when preparing your estate plan.

1. Set up an estate plan sooner rather than later

2. Consider a living trust to provide for you and your family

3. Talk to your family about your plans

4. Keep your estate plan up to date

1. Set up an estate plan sooner rather than later

The first mistake people typically make is not putting in place a comprehensive estate plan. Many people, often young healthy adults, de not think about setting up an estate plan because they do not anticipate needing one anytime soon.

However, the best time to set up an estate plan is when you are of sound mind and sound body. If age or illness makes it difficult for you to communicate, an estate plan that you would set up later on is more likely to be contested.

For example, family members may claim a caregiver had undue influence when your estate plan was issued or that you lacked testamentary capacity when you signed your Will. A comprehensive estate plan that had been in place for years is hence less likely to be contested.

2. Consider a living trust to provide for you and your family

Consider utilizing a living trust in addition to a Will. A revocable living trust is a legal document that puts property and financial assets into a trust which is administered for an individual's benefit during their lifetime. After death, the assets transferred to the trust are either immediately distributed or held in trust for a future distribution to named beneficiaries according to the trust documents.

A trust can also help you by avoiding probate. Property designated for distribution in a Will may be subjected to probate, which can be a lengthy and expensive process. Putting property in a revocable living trust to be distributed upon death can help avoid probate and unnecessary taxes and fees.

3. Talk to your family about your plans

It is difficult for people to talk to their family about planning for death. Many people also find it morbid to talk about inheritance and property distribution after death.

However, clear communication regarding your estate planning wishes can help avoid family disputes later on. Open communication may also help family members understand why you plan to distribute certain assets to certain individuals and why some beneficiaries will be left out.

4. Keep your estate plan up-to-date

Tax laws change all the time. Your estate plan should be regularly reviewed to make sure you are taking advantage of tax benefits while avoiding penalties and unnecessary tax liabilities.

Changes in your life situation may also necessitate changes to your estate plan. Life changes like marriage, divorce or the birth of a child may make you re-evaluate your estate plan to make sure it reflects your wishes and the needs of your loved ones. Once you have updated your estate plan, make sure that it is uploaded to liteWill; thus, even if the document is never found, your person of confidence will still be able to retrieve the soft copy in liteWill.

Writing your Will is the very first step. Equally important is to store your Will online, to ensure that it will be found in a timely manner. liteWill is the only global platform which offers the solution to store your Will online.

‘A Will that is not online is like a Will that does not exist’

This portion of the website is for information only. The statements and opinions are the expression of their author, not of liteWill, and have not been evaluated for accuracy, completeness or changes in the law. Information contained in this article is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.

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