It’s a sad reality that money can often bring out the worst in people.
The reading of a will can often cause conflict within families, not just because everyone may have a different opinion as to who should be entitled to what, but because emotions are also very raw following a loss. Sometimes these conflicts can turn into serious matters which might need the help of an estate litigation attorney.
When writing your will, it is important that your estate is divided correctly in the way you see fit. After all, it is your money.
But there are steps you can take to try to prevent conflict as much as possible, including seeking advice from experts such as Beyond.
Speak to your family and friends when writing your will. This may not be an easy conversation to have. But if you remain firm to your beliefs and explain exactly why you have made the decisions you have, it makes it easier for your loved ones to accept the outcome. If you want to give a sizeable sum to charity or a cause you care about then explain to them how passionate you are, rather than leave them to feel shocked when the will is read. If you feel this conversation may cause problems then ask your legal advisor to lead the discussion and add some external authority to the proceedings.
Differentiate Between Gifts and Loans
Your children may be in very different places financially. If this is the case, don’t leave one more money than the others to balance things out as this could create resentment or feelings of favoritism. Likewise, before your death, you may have loaned money to a child to help them out. If this is the case, make it clear that the loan must be paid back to the estate or that the outstanding balance has been taken out of their share to keep things equal.
Begin Transferring Your Estate Early
Some people prefer to begin passing on their money to loved ones while they are still alive, offering them the chance to see kids and grandkids enjoy the fruits of their labor. It also encourages the recipients to be more careful with their financial decisions. If you choose to do this it could be a way to avoid later arguments as your family becomes aware of what they’ll each get but you need to be aware of the potential tax implications of this and plan it properly.
Discuss The Value of Belongings
It is not just money that you may be passing on. If you have belongings that have sentimental or financial value you may wish them to remain in the family. Speak to your family members about who you would like to pass these objects on to, hold discussions about who would like what and why. This could be enlightening and avoid future squabbles.
Refresh Your Will
As times change so do you and your family. What seemed the right thing to do with your money five years ago may seem completely wrong today. Perhaps your partner, was to be the sole benefactor but they have passed on? Maybe the birth of a grandchild, a family feud, a change in circumstance or a divorce mean your plans are now dated? Ensure you keep updating your will as changes happen around you.
Keep It Fair
Nothing could cause resentment greater than one child being given control of your assets. Unless there are extreme circumstances, try to be fair with your children, dividing things equally among them. Also don’t give one control of the will, ensure that is also equal. If you think there could be problems then appoint someone to care for their inheritance.