One of the primary goals for many people when estate planning is to avoid having their families fight over their estates. It is not always easy, but some simple steps can help.
Avoiding a family battle over an estate plan is an important goal, if you want your estate to go smoothly. Nothing creates more problems for estate administration than when emotions between family members erupt. When that happens things that might seem like minor issues can get blown up and the fights can become very bitter.
St. Louis Public Radio recently provided some practical advice to avoid these family feuds in "Four things to know about estate planning that could help you avoid fights with your family."
The advice includes:
- Trusts avoid more fights than wills. Challenges to estate plans come in probate court. A trust does not have to go through the courts, but wills do. By having a trust, you can keep your estate plan out of the very place where fights can happen.
- Guardianships and conservatorships are increasingly popular ways to avoid family feuds over elder care. However, it might be better to get advance directives before appointment of a guardian or conservator becomes necessary.
- Many fights start because one child has been left in charge of administering an estate or trust. Those children left out might disagree with the designated child. A neutral, third-party trustee or executor is an option to consider, if you think your children might argue.
- Regularly updating your estate plan is necessary to avoid fights. Your life circumstances and those of your family will change. If your estate plan does not take those changes into account, there can be trouble.