Inheritance Conflict & How to Avoid It

August 12, 2019Mandi Morrison

Most people falsely believe that penning a will can help prevent inheritance conflicts in the family once they pass away. However, if there are large sums of money and real estate involved, then even the strongest family ties can break. They will all lawyer up and try to bring your testament down which is why you need to take additional measures to ensure your last will is respected. Greediness is bad enough but it has the potential to sever ties between brothers and sisters and parents and children. Such aftermath of a death in the family must be prevented at all costs, and here are some advice on how to pull it off.

Every family is susceptible to greed

The first thing you need to realize is that there isn’t a single family that is immune to postmortem bickering. Leniency is a major issue because a typical family member is always thinking: “Such a scenario can never happen to my family. We are all close and love each other.” We are sad to say but family love comes with a price tag and if the passing member of the family was well-off, those fine love ties might break. That is why this text and the following tips apply to every family, no exceptions!

Several beneficiaries

Dictators come to power when there is no one around them to co-rule. The same principle applies to inheritance, as giving too much power to a single beneficiary is not a wise move. Regardless of how much you trust your eldest child, he or she cannot be trusted to distribute your assets fairly. Always remember that they are an interested party and that is why you cannot rely solely upon your trust in them. People change and who knows what will their state of mind when the time comes to distribute your property. That is why the smartest choice to make is to put all the children as beneficiaries, ensuring that your estate is distributed evenly. If it comes to a conflict, then let their lawyers fight it out in court, preventing in-family arguing.

An explanation is necessary

On the other side, you always have the possibility to distribute the inheritance unequally. This might not be the wisest of choices but you are fully entitled to it. However, this decision should not be arbitrary and it should be accompanied with an explanation. The will should contain a personal note that should be read aloud in front of all the beneficiaries. This way, those people who got the least will know the reason why. After the initial rage, they might understand your decision and come to terms with it, deciding not to challenge the will after all.
Uneven distribution of property is often the case when one of the children is doing particularly well in terms of finances. It is then the parent’s wish to leave more assets to the other child to help him or her get to their feet. Although this might sound logical to you (and to most people), your heirs who are in grief might not understand such a move instantly. An explanation accompanying the will can help them underrated the reasoning being you final decisions better.

Staying up to date

Like we stated earlier, the times and people can change over the course of a single year, let alone an entire decade. That is why you need to keep the relevant files up to date. Any changes in the lives of prospective beneficiaries should be noted down and taken into account when making the final decision. This includes their respective marriage, children born, college education, etc. Over time, you might grow fond of a particular grandchild or maybe lose with your daughter, which will all require prompt changes in the final will. The last thing you need is a person who is no longer inside your life inheriting a large portion of your estate!

Realistic expectations

Wills lawyers can help you a lot with the legal bit of the inheritance process but there are tasks that you have to complete on your own. For once, unrealistic expectations are the main cause of most family bickers. Some family member might expect your property to be bigger than it really is, which will lead them to think that something is concealed from them. Sit down with all the interested parties and explain to them what to expect. This way, they will have realistic expectations when the day to read the will finally arrives. If they get what you have promised them, they will feel satisfied. If all the beneficiaries leave the lawyer’s office happy, then you will have prevented a conflict before it even began.

Be specific

You might own a nice seaside house in Northern Beaches but listing it is a single item in your will is not a good call to make. Firstly, does the structure itself go with the plot of land it is built on? Secondly, who gets the stuff inside, like furniture, the flat-screen TV, cutlery, etc.? You have to contact with wills lawyers in Northern Beaches to sit down and list all the individual items that are subject to inheritance. There could be an individual document attached to the will stating to whom does each item go to. The house might belong to the oldest child but the youngest could get a priceless painting that you know they adored. You are not being petty by listing each and every piece of property you own because it is your right to do with your stuff what you like.

We all hope that in the afterlife we will find peace. However, this doesn’t mean that we have to be selfish, as we should demonstrate an active interest in what happens to our property once we pass away. Drafting a will is just part of the process, as we need to do a whole lot of talking and conferring with our loved-ones. Only once we make them understand the reasons for our decisions will we ensure there is peace in the family once we are gone for good.

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